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|February 16, 2011
Director of Communications
MILFORD DISTRICT COURT PROBATION OFFICER HELPS
MAKE VICTIMS FEEL WHOLE
Milford District Court Probation Officer II Jose Morales’ passion to assist victims of scams and make them feel whole again has resulted in his collection of nearly $90,000 in restitution from offenders who stole or swindled money from unsuspecting consumers, businesses, and in one case of credit card fraud - a family member.
Morales, a 26-year Probation Officer, jokingly refers to himself as the “Money P.O.” because of his reputation for getting offenders to pay their court-ordered restitution in full. In the past year alone, Morales has persuaded four offenders to pay approximately $87,278 to their victims.
During his career - which has included stints as a Probation Officer at Uxbridge and Worcester District Courts as well as Boston Municipal Court (BMC)-Roxbury - Morales estimates that he has successfully encouraged offenders to pay more than $150,000 in restitution over the years.
“It is my job to keep the Commonwealth safe and make victims whole. I see myself as the victim’s voice,” said Morales, who saved a co-worker’s life on his second day on the job while employed at Uxbridge District Court. “I work with the offenders to make them accountable. There is always the threat of them losing their freedom and then they have to come back and pay.”
“Jose Morales is a very conscientious worker who takes his job and his responsibilities very seriously. Jose has little use for defendants’ excuses for not paying and he does not hesitate to call upon the authority of the presiding justice to persuade defendants to reimburse their victims,” said Milford District Court Chief Probation Officer Stephen Alpers.
In one case, an offender - who worked as an accountant - financed his gambling addiction and trips to Foxwoods Casino with $14,000 he stole from the firm he worked for by writing checks payable to himself. When the offender claimed he did not have the money, Morales immediately brought him before the judge and had him jailed.
Morales said the defendant complained that he did not have the money. But this complaint fell on deaf ears.
“He ended up spending 37 days in jail before he cashed in his 401K retirement plan to pay the debt,” he said.
Morales collected $11,628.10 in restitution from a man, who along with his wife,
wrote bad checks to numerous home improvement chain stores throughout the state over a five-year span. This resulted in him and his wife being charged with larceny over $250 - 29 counts - and sentenced to federal prison.
“This couple has a history of writing bad checks. We put a stop to that,” said Morales.
The wife was committed to federal prison where she is serving a two-year term. The husband served a federal sentence for 34 months. He was not allowed to participate in programs at the federal penitentiary because he had the pending matter of the unpaid restitution.
The intrepid Probation Officer contacted the offenders’ family. The man’s mother-in-law raised the money and paid the restitution in full.
“This was not an easy case. We went back and forth for four months but in the end the money was paid in full,” Morales said.
In another case involving a contractor, Morales made sure that the contractor paid every penny of the $50,000 he owed a victim whom he had cheated after learning the victim had won the lottery twice.
“The offender balked at paying the victim the money. He said he doesn’t need it. I said I don’t care. You still have to pay it and the victim was paid all of the money,” Morales said.
A 24-year-old Milford man paid $8,000 of the $12,000 he owes in restitution after
vandalizing a home. Morales said the man has a remaining balance of $4,000 to pay in $400 monthly installments.
In another case, an offender received stolen property - her mother’s credit card -
and was ordered to pay $3,650 in restitution. She used her inheritance to pay her mom.
Morales said he lost count of the total amount of restitution he has prodded offenders to pay their victims over the years although he estimates it is over $150,000. He just quietly goes about his job, Morales said.
“Everyday is a different day. At the end of the day, I feel that I did the best that I could,” he said.