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Mackenzie, Caltagirone and McNeill Hail Committee Passage of Legislation Designed to Address Municipal Theft
12/11/2013
HARRISBURG – Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee approved House Bill 1863, a bipartisan government reform effort led by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Berks/Lehigh) that would toughen penalties for individuals convicted of municipal theft.

Mackenzie, the bill’s prime sponsor, was joined by Rep. Thomas Caltagirone (D-Berks), the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Daniel McNeill (D-Lehigh/Northampton) in praising the legislation as a positive step toward safeguarding the public’s trust in municipal government. Both Caltagirone and McNeill are co-sponsors of the measure.

“The confidence of many Lehigh Valley residents was shaken in recent years after a series of high-profile incidents of theft by municipal employees,” said Caltagirone. “It further eroded when some of those convicted received only light sentences. The measure that passed out of committee would increase penalties for such crimes to ensure adequate deterrents are in place and that justice is served.”

“People who steal from municipal governments and their agencies are stealing from taxpayers,” said Mackenzie. “The highest duty any government official or employee has is to oversee public finances with honesty and integrity. Breeches of such trust, like those we have seen both in the Lehigh Valley and across the Commonwealth, must be dealt with firmly. This legislation would do that while protecting taxpayers.”

In addition to increasing penalties for municipal employees who steal from local governments, the bill would also target individuals who embezzle funds or otherwise take property from charitable organizations in which they are entrusted to lead.

“Unfortunately, the embezzlement of funds isn’t limited to the municipal government level,” said McNeill. “It is all too common for youth sports leagues, volunteer fire companies and civic organizations to find their accounts bled dry by dishonest individuals who believe they can get away with it. This bill would send a strong message to anyone who might consider skimming funds away from organizations dedicated to the public good that they will be punished.”

Among the penalty enhancements proposed by the legislation are:

• Making the theft of $100,000 or more a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
• Making the theft of $500,000 or more a first-degree felony, carrying a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
• Adding up to five years to the sentence of anyone convicted of theft from a charity or government entity.

Representative Ryan Mackenzie
134th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Ryan Travis, 717.260.6335
rtravis@pahousegop.com  
RepMackenzie.com / Facebook.com/RepMackenzie
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