We always appreciate when the district attorney and judges are on the same page about sending embezzlers to jail or prison. Monday Judge Douglas C. Phimister sentenced Donald Atkinson to five years in prison. The prison term had already been agreed to by Atkinson, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, the Probation Department, the state Attorney General’s Office and the judge.
Besides sentencing Atkinson, who had embezzled more than $338,000 from the Deputy Sheriff’s Association when he was president of the organization, the judge set out the terms of restitution. Atkinson will owe that money plus $100,000 he conned out of a dependent elderly adult.
To start paying that down Atkinson and his wife will split property and assets worth $55,000, with half of that going to restitution. From his pension he will pay out $1,000 monthly. At that rate it will take him 26 years to pay back the DSA. He won’t be needing his pension in prison. He ought to accelerate payments during his time in the state pen.
Meantime, we hope the DSA shifts monetary control to a treasurer, with dual signatures by the treasurer and president, plus an annual review by a certified public accountant. Changing presidents annually is another useful check and balance. Caution and standard procedures will avoid a similar embarrassment like Donald Atkinson. A CPA is cheaper than losing $338,000.