No surprise that the AGO is disappointed in the sentence handed down to Jerome Block, Jr. His punishment amounted to probation, get a job, keep up with child support payments, don’t even think about getting off probation early, and don’t forget to pay back taxpayers all the money that was embezzled.
Our investigators and prosecutors did their jobs well. Block pled guilty to two (2) separate embezzlement charges; fraudulent use of a credit card; theft of identity; violation of the state Election Code, Campaign Reporting Act, and Voter Action Act; and conspiracy to commit violation of the Election Code. As I told reporters after the court proceeding, the Attorney General’s Office does not control sentencing.
Let’s not forget the significant positive things that came out of this prosecution and subsequent plea agreement. At our insistence, Block, Jr. resigned his $90,000 a year post of the Public Regulation Commission and also agreed never to seek public office again. The agreement also saved about a million dollars in expected costs for impeachment proceedings in the legislature that became unnecessary as a result.
Leaving the courthouse in Santa Fe yesterday I overheard a conversation in which one person asked, “Does this mean a public official can steal money from the public, violate election laws, and then get off because he claims he’s a drug addict?”