Justice Says Money Talks, Killers Walk —Cagle
MOST OF us don't know Vickie Monfore from Adam (or should we say Anna). If the name sounds vaguely familiar, it's because she was on our news pages in the March issue, having been sentenced to nearly 24 years in prison for embezzling about $1.5 million from her former Eugene, OR, employer, the now-defunct IP/Koke Printing.
While I don't know Miss Monfore personally, I feel like I have a pretty good read on the type of person she is...adventurer, fun-loving and a gambler in more ways than one. She took more than 30 flights to Las Vegas, and also used the ill-gotten booty to pay for hotels, vacations and cruises. Vickie tried to wiggle out of the judicial net by claiming a gambling addiction.
Truth is, she likes to take risks because the promise of a big payday is too much to pass up. The thrill of the act is what makes her feel alive, like being unfaithful to a spouse when marital relations become stale. Most of us are hard-wired to believe this to be wrong and don't act on such impulses.
I won't rehash the entire story here but, in the final analysis, Vickie was blamed for the demise of IP/Koke Printing by the former owners, who are now in a different business. It was pointed out that the amount she took was close to the same amount the company borrowed in an effort to stay afloat, an effort that failed.
Is it true? Did Vickie single-handedly bring down the company? Only the balance sheet knows for sure, but I think she's being scape-goated. And, since she did steal money, it's easier to conclude that it was her conniving and not managerial ineptness that caused IP/Koke to capsize.
But, lost in the mix is that the former CFO apparently was asleep at the wheel while she raided the coffers, constituting managerial ineptness. Frankly, I find it hard to believe the CFO knew nothing. That ownership hasn't pursued this man legally is interesting, if not baffling.
Anyway, my whole point of this is not to stir the conspiracy pot. Vickie Monfore may well have been the lone assassin to take down her former company, and perhaps the former CFO was just an idiot she manipulated. There is always more to the story, info that will never come to light.
What does disturb me is the sentence that Vickie Monfore received, because it only rubs more salt into a wound that we, as a society, have chosen to ignore. We simply value money and possessions over people and lives, and it's reflected in the administration of justice to criminals.
Twenty-four years in prison is just ridiculously long for the crime of stealing this money. She's 48 years old now. Should Vickie have to spend what could be the rest of her life rotting in jail? It says here...no.
By contrast, we have the case of football player Donte Stallworth, who struck and killed a 59-year-old man in Miami while driving under the influence. His blood-alcohol level was .126, well above the Florida legal limit of .08. Stallworth got a prison sentence of 24 as well...24 days. He was sentenced to 30 days, and let out early. And after a one-year suspension, the NFL reinstated Stallworth into football society. He promptly signed a one-year contract valued at $1.2 million, including incentives.
Fitting the Crime?
While we're picking on athletes, there's the case of former NBA star Jayson Williams. This guy "accidentally" shoots and kills his limo driver, tries to cover it up and gets sent away for five years. But, if you read the fine print, you'll see that Williams is eligible for parole in 18 months. That's just long enough to put together his memoirs for a book deal and possible reality series once he is released.
You're not alone, Vickie. There's Bernie Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme defrauded thousands of people out of billions of dollars (the final estimate was $18 billion). Now that's what I call wealth management. How long of a sentence did the 71-year-old Madoff receive? A whopping 150 years.
Yes, I've mixed apples and oranges here, but I could go on and on with examples of crimes against humanity that draw significantly less harsh penalties from the legal system than do crimes involving theft. The collective American conscience would have you believe that there is nothing that disgusts us more than crimes against the weak and infirm—those acts that rob people of a childhood, an innocence or a life. Yet we condone, via light sentences, these truly heinous crimes when we allow murderers, rapists and pedophiles to walk back among us within a few years.
If you're going to allow someone back on the street in short order, why not make it the embezzler instead of the murderer? We hear arguments against the death penalty that taking another life will not restore the victim's life. I think that's a crock, but OK. So why not rationalize that stolen money can be returned? Let Vickie spend the next 24 years working and paying back the money to those who suffered from her pilfering.
Stallworth and Williams cannot atone for the lives they have cost, yet Madoff and Vickie Monfore could be made to repay, to a degree, the money they have taken. The truth of accountability speaks volumes to our nation's values. I, for one, don't like what those values say. PI