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July 12, 2008

Sentencing nunsense?

16859395_240x180You know we live in tough sentencing times when even an ailing elderly nun cannot get a sentencing break.  This local Nebraska story provides all the details:

An Omaha nun who admitted stealing money from the local archdiocese has been sentenced to prison.  Sister Barbara Markey and her supporters had expected her to get probation after pleading guilty to stealing more than $250,000.  Instead, the judge gave her a three-to-five-year prison sentence, saying probation would have promoted disrespect for the law.

“I’m shocked and disappointed,” said defense attorney Bill Gallup. “If ever a person deserved to be put on probation, it was this nun.”....

Markey, 73, had taken the money to fund vacations, homes and a gambling addiction. She ran the archdiocese’s Family Life office for more than 25 years but was dismissed after money was discovered missing from the Focus Marriage program....

Markey will have to begin serving her sentence immediately.  The judge rejected a request to give her a few days to get her affairs in order.  “This is an old woman in the fading twilight of her life,” said Gallup.  “She's in bad health, has a broken shoulder, and (the judge) put her in jail. You put people in jail who are a danger to the community. She’s not and doesn't need to be rehabilitated.”

Under current sentencing guidelines, Markey won’t be eligible for parole until she’s served at least 18 months.

July 12, 2008 at 09:27 AM | Permalink


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She should go to jail. For how long is up for debate. Perhaps this particular sentence was somewhat harsh, perhaps not. Reasonable minds may differ on that point. But to me it is clear that she should serve some time.

Posted by: Scott | Jul 12, 2008 10:40:52 AM

Speaking of respect for the law, I wonder if the archdiocese regrets reporting it to the police now.

Posted by: George | Jul 12, 2008 1:34:55 PM

Exploitng a position of trust to spend years siphoning off a quarter of a million dollars intended for charitable purposes in order to fund one's taste for luxuries shows over-the-top greed, dishonesty and betrayal.

I agree with Scott that this woman earned a jail sentence, and, contrary to George, I don't know of any reason the church would regret reporting it to the police. (Indeed if church leaders who knew of it did NOT report it, they would be guilty of misprision of felony. And the many people who contributed the money now squandered on vacations deserve a public holding to account).

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 12, 2008 2:39:21 PM

You're right, Mr. Otis.

"The Rev. Gregory Baxter of the archdiocese said the church is pleased the court proceedings are over and it plans to move forward with its ministry."

No regrets at the severity of the sentence apparently. So who were her supporters?

Posted by: George | Jul 12, 2008 3:48:08 PM

There is always a good reason not to call the police: when you do, you invite them to come into your house and mess with your stuff. This is why many people -- including most prosecutors I know, Mr. Otis -- are ideologically opposed to calling 911. It isn't a matter of having something to hide, it is a simple matter, of not wanting people that lack college degrees coming to your house.

If you run a religion, church, or theme-park (or a combination of the three) those concerns are heightened.

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 13, 2008 7:46:23 PM


Do you mean that the church should NOT have called the police after discovering that a quarter million dollars had been stolen??

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 13, 2008 8:26:00 PM

Mr. Otis, I can’t speak for this church (as I don’t know the situation, and what $250,000 is worth to them), but many individuals and institutions would not call the cops if something like this happened to them. The price of 1) allowing the police to investigate; and 2) retaining counsel is simply too high.

(Obviously you have to be a retard to talk to the police without your lawyer, but since the 5th Amendment RTC doesn't apply to corporations (like Churches) pre-indictment or pre-charge, they have to pay the bill.)

Posted by: S.cotus | Jul 13, 2008 9:46:45 PM

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