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August 12, 2010

Victim requests restitution, so judge orders 21 years(!) of house arrest

A helpful reader altered me to this notable local sentencing story from Philadelphia, which is headlined "Philadelphia-area thief gets 21 years house arrest." Here are the fascinating details:

An office manager who admitted stealing $475,000 from her employer has been sentenced to 21 years of house arrest so she can work to repay it. Lanette Sansoni's unusual sentence came after her ex-boss said he was more interested in restitution than jail time, her lawyer said.

"This was just a creative compromise," defense attorney A. Charles Peruto Jr. said Thursday. "I think it will encourage her to pay it off, so the judge was pretty smart about it."

Peruto, a veteran defense lawyer in the region, guessed the two-decade term may be a record for house arrest in Pennsylvania. State officials could not immediately confirm that.

Sansoni, 40, has repaid about $275,000 after selling her home in Warminster, just north of Philadelphia, and moving in with her mother. She will remain on house arrest until the remaining $200,000 is repaid to Kenneth Slomine, who owned JRS Settlement Services, a title company in Lower Moreland Township.

Montgomery County Judge Joseph A. Smyth on Wednesday set a payment schedule of $750 a month, which works out to about 21 years. Sansoni can leave home to work but could go to jail if the payments stop. She has a job paying $700 a week, Peruto said, but he wouldn't disclose what it is.

Prosecutors had argued for incarceration for Sansoni, who also served as a title clerk at JRS before it went bust because of her theft. "This is a case that just cried out for jail time," said Assistant District Attorney Steven Bunn, who called Sansoni's crimes "egregious."

"She's not stealing to make ends meet," Bunn said. "She was buying luxury vacations, designer handbags, designer jewelry, and basically living the high life while this company went under."...

Peruto said he expects Sansoni to pay off the debt early and be released from house arrest. "I wouldn't be shocked," he said, "if it was paid off in a couple of years."

August 12, 2010 at 04:51 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I think this is a brilliant sentence. She has already lost her home. House arrest is no party, and she will be doing something concrete to pay back what she stole. That wouldn’t be possible from inside a prison cell.

While the prosecutor prefers prison, this is a sentence that serves a practical end. Prison wouldn’t help anybody, and after a custodial sentence (especially a long one) the defendant’s ability to provide restitution would be severely diminished. I don’t think she poses much danger to reoffend, because her criminal record — and WHAT she did to earn it — would surely be part of any future employer’s decision to hire her.

It’s disappointing that the prosecutor is too narrow-minded to see the larger picture.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Aug 12, 2010 6:57:32 PM

This is a productive sentencing idea. All parties are better off for it, including the taxpayer.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 13, 2010 6:42:11 AM

Retired Teacher

It costs about thirty to forty thousand dollars a year to keep someone in prison, on top of the cost of a trial.

This judge should run for higher office so he'd be in a better position to do something about those who are deemed to be an immediate threat to others because they smoked the wrong kind of cigarette.

Posted by: Michael | Oct 3, 2010 11:21:27 AM

If you wish to succeed, you should use persistence as your good friend, experience as your reference, prudence as your brother and hope as your sentry.

Posted by: Supra Footwear | Nov 2, 2010 1:33:20 AM

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