Don't wait up for the shrimp boat
The 40-year-old Rotterdam man found himself with a new lease on a jail cell this weekend after attempting to pilfer four bags of shrimp from the Glenville Price Chopper. Town cops say he devised a somewhat elaborate scheme to make off with the frozen bags of prawns, each valued at roughly $14 a piece.
Right now, there are two things that are certain. First, that Berghela was trying to feed something, most likely a festering drug habit. And second, that there was a gross miscarriage of justice when a town judge sent the man to Schenectady County Jail on $30,000 bail.
In the most likely scenario, the 40-year-old man would need to cough up $3,000 to a bail bondsman in order to get out of the clink. That’s money flushed down the toilet of the state justice system even if he ends up beating the rap, thanks to an elected town justice that likely knows well the bondsman who will eventually put up Berghela’s bail.
Some will argue this is justice; if you break the law, you must be prepared to face the consequences, one of which is being lodged in an inhospitable place like the Schenectady County Jail. These same people will also note that the suspect here scuffled with the store’s security guard and ran off in a somewhat disorderly way, proving that he’s a flight risk. And others might argue jail is a good place for Mr. Berghela because he won’t be able to get drugs there.
Frankly, these are all flimsy reasons to take away a man’s freedom for what could inevitably be close to a year, once the legalists are done tinkering with the case. Not to mention, given the charges Berghela is facing –petit larceny and felonious third-degree robbery –he’s unlikely to face much more than a few months in jail even in the worst case of legal scenarios. So the carrot waved in this man’s face will be to accept any plea deal offered out of
See, the legal system is big business these days. For loaning Berghela bail, a bondsman stands to gain a cool three grand; his defense attorney will probably make at least that amount –either from Berghela or the taxpayers –for representing him in court. And if the man happens to rot in prison for a year, it’s going to cost at least $20,000 to keep him clothed, fed and warm during the winter. Doing the math, that’s a lot of cash to be spending for $56 worth of stolen shrimp.
Truth is, Berghela was over charged by police and in the absence of a real court, was ordered held on bail that is extraordinarily high given the circumstances of his case. But justice is a business in this state and a lot of people have their grubby little hands in the cookie jar. Rather than addressing this man’s overlying needs as a so-called drug addict, the justice system will shuffle him off into a dark corner of some penitentiary to fester for a spell.
Maybe when he finally sees the light of day, he’ll consider a crime with more gusto to make it worth everyone's time rather than absconding with frozen crustaceans. Perhaps buying a sawed-off shotgun and mugging people at gunpoint would worth such ludicrous bail.