The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 3, 2012

Ex-council prez's $1,000-a-month restitution stands

By Marcia Moore
The Daily Item

— MIDDLEBURG — Convicted thief Bryan M. Wolfe’s bid to lower monthly restitution payments to his former employer from $1,000 to $100 was denied Monday by a Snyder County judge.

Representing himself because he was unable to afford an attorney, Wolfe, 41, former president of the Northumberland Borough Council, said he couldn’t meet the court-ordered $1,000 monthly payments to Northway Industries, Middleburg, and Erie Insurance without shirking financial obligations to the Internal Revenue Service, child-custody and health insurance.

Prosecutors balked, arguing that if Wolfe’s request was honored, the court would be giving him 140 years to pay back all he stole.

“I’m not skirting my responsibility, (but) if you want me to pay it, other people will suffer,” Wolfe told the court.

His plea to have the monthly restitution reduced by $900 was denied by Senior Judge Louise O. Knight.

“It wasn’t designed to be easy. It’s a sacrifice,” Knight said of the punishment Wolfe received for stealing $173,000 worth of computer hardware and software from Northway before he was fired in September 2007 as the company’s information systems manager.

Wolfe was sentenced in January to a 9-month to 23-month jail term and to pay full restitution.

About a month later, he pleaded no contest in Northumberland County Court to an unrelated felony theft charge for stealing $18,722 from Northumberland borough, where he served as council president until 2010.

As part of the plea in that case, Wolfe agreed to pay $18,000 in restitution in exchange for avoiding a state prison sentence. His parents paid the restitution in full.

At Monday’s hearing, Snyder County Assistant District Attorney Matthew Cravitz opposed Wolfe’s petition for reduced restitution to Northway, in part because he found a way to pay Northumberland borough in full and avoid a prison sentence in the Northumberland County case after the Snyder County penalty was imposed.

“That money should have come here,” Cravitz argued, adding that it would take 140 years to pay Northway the money he stole if Wolfe were allowed to submit $100 monthly restitution payments.