Rebecca Streeter-Chen, a former curator who stole an 1823 Tanner atlas from the Rockland Historical Society and then attempted to sell it, was sentenced yesterday to five years' probation and 24 weekends of community service with the county Sheriff's Department, Steve Lieberman reports for the Journal News.
County court judge Victor Alfieri rejected prosecutors' requests for a 1-3 year prison term when Streeter-Chen pleaded guilty, saying in August that he was inclined to sentence Streeter-Chen to six months in jail plus supervised probation. But yesterday he didn't even go that far, accepting calls for leniency from Streeter-Chen's lawyers who said that Ms. Streeter-Chen was "the mainstay of the family" and "needed at home to raise and support two children."
I'm sorry, but in my view she really should have thought about that before she stole the atlas. Life is choices, and Ms. Streeter-Chen chose to steal that atlas, she chose to try and sell it, and she chose to put her children at risk by doing so. Probation combined with 48 days of trash-pickup (or whatever onerous community service she gets assigned) is simply not a serious punishment for the theft of a rare book. Utterly absurd.
But hey, what else is new?
I'm sure Travis will weigh in on the sentence over at Upward Departure today, so do check in to see what he thinks of it. I'll post the link when it's up. Hopefully he'll renew his call for cases like this to be handled at the federal level, as this one clearly should have been.