I've always believed that the punishment should fit the crime. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you. And if you do something rotten and criminal to someone, it should be done to you as well. And this is an excellent example of the punishment fitting the crime.

Nathen Smith of Painesville, Ohio thought it would be cute to steal a Salvation Army collection kettle right before Christmas. He was caught, and the judge handing down his sentence gave him the option of 90 days in jail or 24 hours as a homeless man. He chose the homeless route.

But I bet Nathen didn't count on the judge ordering him to serve the sentence right then and there! The judge made him empty his pockets, and he was put on GPS monitoring. He was forbidden to room with friends or family. He was to spend the next 24 hours outside, in the cold. He was only wearing street clothes and a jacket. He called his mommy from a pay phone though, and she brought him snow pants and an extra sweatshirt. (Cheater!) The thief will also do three days in jail and some community service as part of his sentence.

What a perfect punishment for the crime of stealing money that is meant to provide shelter for the homeless. I only wish more judges were so creative with their sentences!

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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