Bill would allow restitution for nonprofit victims

Posted: Sunday, March 16, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- If volunteers for a nonprofit have to spend hours of their own time investigating a crime, the group could get restitution under a bill that passed the House on Friday.

Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, said the measure stems from a 1999 case involving the Juneau-based Alaska Folk Festival.

When board members suspected the treasurer was embezzling money, the local police said they didn't have the resources to investigate the case, so volunteer board members gathered the documentation themselves.

The treasurer was later convicted and his sentence included paying $5,000 restitution for the hours of volunteer labor.

But the Alaska Court of Appeals ruled that restitution was improper because the festival hadn't spent any money for the volunteer effort.

Weyhrauch sponsored the bill allowing nonprofits to receive restitution in such cases. He said 5,000 nonprofits operate in Alaska, and in times of budget cuts, they are being asked to provide more services to their communities.

''We want to make sure that if they're harmed by anyone, that they recover the full value of the harm that is done,'' Weyhrauch said.

The bill passed 34-0. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

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