The House Judiciary Committee today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) that would allow governments, non-profit organizations and businesses to collect restitution if they’re victims of a crime.
Stefano said Senate Bill 897 would close a current loophole in state law that defines a victim specifically as an individual who has suffered physical or mental injury, death or the loss of earnings. As a result of that limited definition, a recent Supreme Court ruling found that governmental entities and businesses are not eligible for reimbursement when they are victimized and suffer losses.
Stefano said he recognized the need for the legislation after an incident occurred when he served as a member of a joint sewage authority. The authority’s former executive was charged with embezzlement and ordered to pay a significant restitution to the authority.
“Because the authority was a government entity, it could have lost the right to restitution under this ruling, leaving taxpayers to make up the costs,” Stefano said. “When individuals steal from non-profits, governments and businesses, they should be required to pay for that crime. This expansion will enable these entities to receive restitution in instances where, for example, an act of theft, hacking, embezzlement or destruction of property has been perpetrated against them.”
Stefano also thanked the coauthor of the bill, Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18) for her work in developing the legislation.
“Senator Lisa Boscola and I worked hard, in a bipartisan manner, to ensure these crime victims have access to restitution,” Stefano said. She and I have both seen in our districts what can happen when local agencies, non-profits and municipalities are the victims of a crime. We could not allow taxpayers to have to bear the financial responsibility of the criminal.”
The legislation now goes to the full House for consideration.