How Much Would You Pay To Avoid Prison?

Here's your dilemma: You can either pay $4,000 a month for 200 months or spend 80 months locked in a California prison?

Hard choice?

It apparently wasn't for David Scott Schapel, a 36-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita man.

He chose prison.

You might excuse Schapel's decision if he couldn't afford the $4,000 a
month payments for restitution after 2009 grand theft, fraud and
embezzlement convictions.

But, according to a state Court of Appeal
based in Santa Ana, Schapel easily could have afforded the payments
given that he earned as much as $16,000 each month–well, at least he
did before he decided he'd rather live in prison than pay the $800,000
in court-ordered restitution.

After his convictions, Schapel
agreed to make the monthly payments in order to avoid prison, but
immediately mocked Judge James S. Odriozola's ruling by paying just $50, $25 and $5 a month. It
didn't help his cause that he violated his probation officer's demand
that he not leave the state to play in Las Vegas.

“It appears this defendant was trifling with the court,” observed Justice Eileen Moore, on behalf of justice William Rylaarsdam and Raymond Ikola.

The justices determined that Schapel's relocation to prison was righteous and closed the matter.

–R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly

CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; won inclusion in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting for his coverage of a white supremacist’s senseless murder of a beloved Vietnamese refugee; launched multi-year probes that resulted in the FBI arrests and convictions of the top three ranking members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department; and gained praise from New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.

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