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Parole & Probation Case Study

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:12 PM EDT

There are new developments in a story we've been covering for the past two and half years. It involves a woman who stole tens of thousands of dollars from her former employer Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair is the parent company of Fox45. The latest twist, shows what some see as a breakdown in the system that allows criminals to avoid paying for their crimes.

In August 2011 Marquita Perry was sentenced to 18 months in prison for embezzling more than $80,000 from Sinclair.  Perry was also ordered to pay restitution and she was set up on a payment schedule of about $1,400 a month upon her release.  So, 18 months after her sentencing Sinclair followed up to ask where's the money?  "I found out that she hadn't been paying. And and I also found out that she had been released more than a year before my phone call to check in on where the money was" said Jaime Dembeck, Human Resources Manager at Sinclair.

It turns out, Marquita Perry had been released from prison after serving just five months of her 18 month sentence.  That's not unusual under Maryland law, but she had been out of jail for 13 months without ever paying a dime.  "It seems to me that there was a clear disconnect somewhere," said Dembeck.

We wanted to know why it seemed no one else was checking on Marquita Perry?  And, why wasn't she in violation of probation, if she wasn't paying up?  In fact, Marquita Perry's probation agent didn't take action until we got involved, writing a violation report to the court, the very day we started asking questions.

Department of Corrections officials declined our request for an interview but in a series of emails the department stated that Perry has until the end of her probation, 2017, to pay up.

Whether that is what the judge intended is the question.  A document issued by the judge at Perry's sentencing clearly states Perry must pay back $83,000 through Parole and Probation.  A Corrections spokesperson says that while a payment schedule was set up by probation, it was never ordered by the court.

Without specifically given the power by a judge, Probation doesn't have authority to turn Perry over to the state's collection agency.

The reality is It's unlikely that Perry would be found in violation of her probabtion and sent back to jail if it's determined that she's unable to pay.  Marquita Perry says she is unemployed, which confirms what legal experts told us from the beginning of this case, "The victims rarely see any restitution out of it.  They'll get a little bit, but not a lot" says legal analyst Steve Allen.

We will most likely find out what the judge has to say about this, at a hearing in the next few weeks.  There are some 55,000 people on supervised released in Maryland.  Marquita Perry is on the lowest level of supervision because it's a non-violent crime.  We asked the state Office of Management and Budget, which handles collections, how many deliquent restitution cases are out there.  They have yet to provide us with the numbers.

Parole & Probation Case Study

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