It's hard to say what's more surprising: Thomas Rica's crime, or his sentence. The former Ridgewood, NJ, public works inspector was sentenced yesterday to five years of probation for stealing more than a million quarters harvested from the city's parking meters. Over a period of several years, prosecutors say Rica would make regular trips to the meter collection room, each time swiping thousands of coins from the buckets there, the Record reports. All told, they believe he stole $460,000, notes AP.
That should have landed him in jail under state sentencing guidelines, but under his plea deal Rica won't serve any time—and he'll have to pay back only $250,000 of the money he stole. Prosecutor Daniel Keitel defended the deal by saying that if they'd gone to trial, Rica may have gone to jail, but he wouldn't have had to return any money at all. This deal will "get as much of the money back to the public as quickly as possible," he said.