Try 3 months for $3

There's something to be said for making a public example of those who perpetuate the lowest levels of injustice.

We hope Lake County Judge Salvador Vasquez applies this principle in the case of John Kmetz, 81, who pleaded guilty last year to stealing from a charity that helps children and adults with cerebral palsy.

Kmetz stole the money from Hunky Hollow Athletic Club and Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Indiana while serving as treasurer of the club.

When he was sentenced for his crimes in September 2017, Kmetz assured the judge he could pay the $12,693 in restitution he owed the charity within a year of his sentencing date.

Based on that assurance, Vasquez sentenced Kmetz to four years of probation.

In short, he avoided time behind bars.

Kmetz appeared in court Wednesday, accused of violating terms of his probation by only paying $545 in restitution in the past year.

Kmetz hasn't made good on his promise — one that allowed him to avoid prison time.

Now the judge should make good on a promise he made to Kmetz a year ago.

"And I really do want to emphasize to you, Mr. Kmetz, that if you fail to make significant payments towards this amount in this one-year period, your probation will be revoked," the judge warned at last year's sentencing hearing.

"And in the worst-case scenario to you, you'll go to prison for four years."

It seems time to drop the judicial hammer on Kmetz.

A probation officer testified at Wednesday's hearing that Kmetz averages between $20 and $25 in payments per month.

That's, at best, only about 2 percent of what Kmetz would have needed to pay on a monthly basis to make good on his word to Vasquez, and the charity he stole from, a year ago.

That Kmetz broke his word should surprise no one.

After all, he did steal from the charity while serving as its entrusted treasurer.

A hearing regarding the status of Kemtz's probation is slated for Nov. 7.

Since Kmetz seems unable to follow through on his word, Vasquez should make good on his promise and administer strict justice.



Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.