• Michelle Dawn Mooney

No jail for man who stole $352K from Galloway homeowners group

A man who stole more than $352,000 from a Galloway Township homeowners association was sentenced to 90 days on an ankle bracelet and probation Friday. Ira Binder was sentenced under the plea deal that had him pay $25,000 at sentencing and then $50 a month. With $100,000 covered by insurance, that leaves more than 379 until the debt would be paid. “It hurts my heart to know this man won’t suffer,” resident Patty Logue told the judge. “That this man is going to get a sweetheart deal and not feel any punishment.” Logue lives on $1,600 a month in Social Security, with $500 of that going to medication for her health issues. Now, the 180 households in the condominium association will pay more to try to make up what was lost in the seven years Binder wrote himself hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional checks and allegedly pocketed cash payments while destroying receipts. And while attorney Steve Scheffler said his client didn’t even know what he spent the money on, the residents did. Binder bragged of breeding show dogs and seeing “Hamilton” on Broadway several times, association President Victor Vergata said. Binder’s BMW still sits in his driveway. He would get a new one every six months, Marlene Goldblatt said. Her driveway has two decade-old cars that belong to her and her husband. Larry Goldblatt can no longer drive as dementia takes its toll, his wife said. The Goldblatts now must pay an additional $30 a month to offset the funds lost to Binder. That’s just $20 less than Binder must pay monthly in restitution. Superior Court Judge John Rauh said he heard the homeowners’ frustration, listening to the 10 who spoke in court and reading the 76 victim impact letters sent to him. “Most of what I’ve heard today seems to urge (the court) to reject the plea deal and send Mr. Binder to state prison,” Rauh said. But he explained that a rejection of the deal would send the case back on the road to trial. And, while Bender could face as long as 10 years in prison if convicted, the 68-year-old man with health issues likely would not get that sentence. “No case is a slam dunk,” he said of a guilty verdict from a jury. “I’ve looked at the plea and I’ve looked at it long and hard,” he said before imposing the sentence agreed upon. He said he did take pause with the $50 per month and said there were civil options. But that is another cost, Vergata said after the sentencing. Just as are the increased premiums the $100,000 insurance reimbursement. “It’s not fair,” Marlene Goldblatt said. “He should go to jail.”

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