White Collar Crime Pays Well?


Man Steals $277k From Autism Research, Gets $5k Fine

stillifeLook, if this had been a once-off, or a first offense for Searls I might not be as upset. But, it wasn’t, and it’s not. He worked his con three times over the course of two years. That’s not making a mistake, or a single offense. He intentionally targeted people in and around the autism community. Let’s face it, autism research just isn’t sexy. The people who typically buy fund-raising raffle tickets are those with loved ones diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, or someone who knows someone like that. These are people who are already financial stretched. And he did this with the promise that the proceeds would go to fund autism research. Which also gives false hope to those buying the tickets, as well as to the charity expecting the money.

In addition to Searles’ scam not being an isolated incident, this isn’t the fist time he’s been caught with his hands in the proverbial cookie jar. According to the Olympian article, “ In 2011, Searles was the subject of a court order in Washington barring him from acting as a mortgage broker because he violated the Mortgage Broker Practices Act.” He was also issued a cease and desist order in regards to any kind of solicitation in the state of Washington.

I’m unhappy with the sentence in this case, 90 days home confinement and a $5,000 dollar fine. He’s a repeat offender and he gathered up 277 thousand dollars with this scam. I have seen white collar crime punished more lightly than virtually any other crime imaginable over the course of my life. It is so unfair. Shouldn’t penalties be assessed in some measure on the harm done and less on the social class of the perp?

James Pilant

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