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TUESDAY, MARCH 1, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Ms. Fletcher struggling but still owes city money

There's a saying that goes, "I may owe you money until I die, but I won't beat you out of it."

Good intentions don't always work out, especially when it comes to unsecured debts like the one Earnestine Fletcher owes the city.

Ordered in 1998 to repay $200,000 she stole as a City of Decatur employee, Ms. Fletcher made good progress in repaying $44,000 through June 2004, at which time she asked Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson to suspend payments during an illness and house fire. She did not resume her $1,111 payments in January as promised.

Ms. Fletcher avoided a prison term when she agreed to refund the money, a sentence which was a good deal for Decatur taxpayers, although many people wanted her shipped off to prison.

She could still go to prison for nonpayment and still owe the balance of the theft, but she would be even more unlikely to have the means to make payments if jailed. The judge hasn't said what he will do. Perhaps, he is hoping she soon recovers physically and financially and resumes payments.

That's the best option. But if she continues to miss payments, public sentiment is to send her to prison. She should pay in some fashion.

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