Light sentences, expunged records prompt officials to call for new laws

Margaret Cooper stole from the Mississippi Crime Stoppers program she directed, using the money to pay for movie tickets, hair appointments and trips to the vet for her pet.

The state Department of Public safety fired her. In 2010 she pleaded guilty to stealing $2,400. She cut a deal with prosecutors and not only served no jail time, but had her record wiped clean. In between being fired and pleading guilty she landed another state government job, with the Department of Health, where she still works. She was working in her new government job while she paid back money she stole from her old government job.

A review of government corruption cases by The Clarion-Ledger, including a dozen listed in today’s edition, indicates public officials tend to get off easy when they’re caught with their hands in the till. It shows a trend of light sentences and early release, inequity of sentences, lack of prosecution and expunged records.

Clarion Ledger
10/21/12