Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Still a Bastard

One of the big stories in rural southeastern Minnesota this week has been the sentencing of Dale Schlichting for the fleecing of members of the Hayfield community out of nearly 2 million dollars. Having grown up in Hayfield, knowing everyone who was taken, and being one of the people who Dale cheated out of money, this was a personal story.

What Schlichting did is unforgivable and horrible. He mislead people into investing their money through his DSI Agency into fake securities and insurance. He would then use the money for whatever he chose to do with it. Some people had their entire retirement fund disappear. Others had money they'd put away for their children's college payments evaporate. Even Dale's own church had nearly $300,000 stolen by one of their own. Even my family lost investments, not nearly as much as many, but it still sucked. Personally, I'm only out about $3,000, but that's still $3,000 I would have liked to have had.

At the sentencing Dale was supposedly very apologetic and promised to pay people back once he gets out of jail in 8 years, but how can anyone possibly believe a word he says? He spent years stealing and lying to his friends, his church, his community, and probably his own family so why the hell would he not lie now to appease a huge mob of people he'd pissed off? He's not going to pay anyone back more than the court mandated $200 a month restitution he'll be required to pay.

My bet is he has all of this money stored somewhere, unattached to his name, and he'll serve out his term, probably getting out early on "good behavior" or some other equally lame technicality, and then will live the good life somewhere far from Hayfield with the funds he's no doubt hidden somewhere.

Personally, in white collar situations like this where money is stolen, whoever stole that money should have to pay back everything they stole, plus interest or punitive damages, before he/she can make money to put towards anything but living costs, and those living costs should be the bare minimum. People like Schlichting should, upon release, be forced to find a job even if it's working at Wal-Mart, and then pay the entirety of their paycheck (outside of taxes, rent, clothes, and food) to a restitution fund. And there should definitely be a limit to what the person can keep to put towards living expenses (I'd say $600 a month or something--make them live in a crappy ass apartment and eat ramen). They'd then have to be in this situation until they have everything paid off... or their sorry ass dies.

Well... at least Dale was found guilty and will be serving 8 years. That's a start. I just wish there was some way to get everyone their money back and Dale to never earn another penny his entire life.

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