Bill 897 clarifies restitution law
State Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-18th, joined Governor Tom Wolf and state Sen. Pat Stefano, R-32nd, to celebrate the adoption of Senate Bill 897 at a ceremonial bill signing Jan. 30.
The legislation corrected a quirk in the restitution law by clarifying that government entities and nonprofits are eligible to collect restitution.
The measure was spurred by a local news account concerning Robert Kearns, who was convicted of stealing $832,000 from the taxpayers of Bethlehem Township. The state Superior Court ruled Kearns does not have to pay the money back because a municipality cannot qualify as a “victim” for the purposes of collecting restitution.
Calling the scenario “absurd,” Boscola introduced this legislation to fix the loophole several times on the Senate floor.
“Those who steal from local government or nonprofits should have to pay it back,” Boscola said. “It’s just commonsense. Crime should never pay, but that’s what the decision allowed.”
After similar incidents occurred in Stefano’s Senate District, Boscola and Stefano agreed to work on a bipartisan correction (Senate Bill 897) to the legal loophole. They worked closely with the statewide District Attorneys’ Association and Office of Victim Advocate to draft legislation.