Letter: Hooray for Judge Mary Hoak
July 23, 2015
To the Editor:
At least someone has common sense regarding the Brigid Irish case.
Ms. Irish is accused of stealing in excess of a half million dollars as a public employee. Now the District Attorney has agreed to a plea bargain that includes no jail time and highlights restitution. Of course, I have no idea of what the merits of the case are but know that a great deal of resources (costs and man hours) went into the investigation and prosecution to merit a 900-plus count indictment.
According to the recent article Ms. Irish is represented by the "public defender." That is costing the taxpayers even more money. In fact one has to plead complete poverty (no assets and very little or no income) to be eligible for court-appointed counsel. With that being said, what is the realistic possibility of recouping hundreds of thousand dollars of restitution from someone claiming no assets and poverty?
What the District Attorney did in this plea agreement made no sense as Judge Hoak observed. If the DA structured his offer such as we will give you two years in jail if you pay back the restitution up front or perhaps 12 years in jail if you do not, then we would see if the money still actually exists. In any event, any public employee or official who intentionally steals needs to be punished with a commensurate jail sentence. Of course, she is innocent until proven guilty.
Grand County does not want to send a message to say that you can steal and only if you get caught then you can just repay the funds and receive no jail time. That is beyond absurd, and the folks in Grand County are very fortunate to have a jurist with Judge Hoak's common sense and good judgment. I certainly cannot fault the public defender since he negotiated a terrific plea for his client.
One only hopes that the DA will reconsider the plea offer and place some realistic punishment to fit the alleged crime.
Note this writer is a 26-year part time resident and former New York Assistant District Attorney.
Ronkonkoma , N.Y.