I get wanting your kids to have the opportunity to go to college. Come hell or high water, my husband and I will make sure that ours go. At this moment we’re not 100% sure how we’ll make it happen, but we’re saving as much as we can in the meantime and eventually we’ll figure out a way.
Of course we have our limits, one of which is avoiding jail time in order to scrounge up tuition money. But for one Florida dad, even the deterrent of prison didn’t stop him. Celestino Cruz, 56, stole more than $30,000 from his job in which he was entrusted as a bookkeeper just to make sure his kids realized a higher education.
Cruz was arrested yesterday afternoon on 34 counts of uttering a forged instrument and forgery, organized scheme to defraud, and grand theft. He oversaw the finances for Apogee Business Services on behalf of homeowners and condominium associations in Boynton Beach and was responsible for forwarding checks to vendors. However, about a month ago a property manager noticed a check was made payable to Cruz instead.
In all, 34 checks totaling $31,247.73 had been deposited into Cruz’s account. He confessed during questioning by the police that he used the money to pay for college tuition and expenses for his kids, that he’s sorry for his actions and is now trying to sell his home to pay back the money he stole. So far he’s raised $25,000, which he says he’s said he’d like to use to pay his victims back as soon as possible.
Stealing is never right — it really isn’t. But this man’s story tugs at my heart strings just a little. Of course as much as he wanted to pay for his kids’ college, he’s also taught them a seriously wrong lesson in getting them there. Hopefully his kids can stay in college either way (loans? financial aid? part time jobs?) and help their dad pay restitution at the same time. And hopefully one of the many lessons they’ll take away from this situation is to do well in school, because clearly their dad really, really wants them to be there.
Do you think he deserves to have the book thrown at him, or would you show him some lenience if you were the judge or jury?