Today, I came across an article about Kevin James Guerra, a former St. Charles County (Mo.) Ambulance District board member who recently pleaded guilty to taking more than $500,000 from a private urgent care center. Apart from being pleased the 44-year-old was caught, I’m appalled by the sentence given to him by Circuit Judge Jon Cunningham: 120 days shock time, five years probation, and repayment of $150,000.
To understand why Guerra’s punishment — if you can call it that — troubles me, one needs only compare it to that given other individuals around the country for crimes involving comparable dollar amounts stolen, embezzled or otherwise taken illegally. Below are three cases I found through a simple online search:
Case #1 (Los Angeles, 2012) — Third Brother Sentenced to Over Four Years in Prison in Plot That Stole Over $500,000 Designated for Low-Income, Disabled Residents;
Case #2 (Springfield, Mo., 2011) — Springfield Man Sentenced to Five Years and Ten Months for $500,000 Fraud Scheme; and
Case #3 (Downer’s Grove, Ill., 2012) — Former Office Manager Gets 10 Years for Embezzling More Than $500K from Suburban Chicago Law Firm.
What was the Judge Cunningham thinking when he doled out punishment for Guerra that appears many orders of magnitudes less severe than that received by others around the country? According to the article, he said it was unrealistic to expect Guerra to pay back the entire $500,000 during the five years he will be on probation.
Simple math tells a different story: In exchange for his sentence, Guerra appears to be $350,000 ahead.
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