Two words — “I’m sorry” — would have meant much more than the empty promises of restitution that Al Moriarty made in the courtroom Wednesday. With many of the victims of his Ponzi scheme looking on, Moriarty, 81, was sentenced to five years for seven felony fraud convictions. With credit for good behavior and time served, he will spend 15 months in jail. Given the enormous pain he has inflicted, that may not seem adequate, though keeping an elderly man behind bars for years and years — with the taxpayers picking up the tab — doesn’t make sense either.
Sadly, there isn’t any way to make the victims in this case financially whole. Moriarty is $22 million in debt, and there is little likelihood that his investors will ever recoup their lost savings.
Many of those losses are heartbreaking. Moriarty took real money from real people — money saved for maternity leave; for college educations; for medical care; for retirement; to help elderly relatives.
Amazingly, Moriarty still has his defenders, including some of his victims.
“To call Al a scam artist is criminal,” one of them wrote in a letter to the editor.
We admire the ability to forgive. However, it’s impossible for us to attribute Moriarty’s criminal behavior to the recession, as the defense has done. As Tribune reporter Pat Pemberton reported Sunday, court records show that Moriarty accepted millions in “loans” from his investors, but instead of using that money as he said he would — to buy gold and real estate and to make loans to Cal Poly teachers — he deposited it in his personal bank account.
Moriarty certainly knew where his investors’ money had — or had not — gone. For him to refuse to admit culpability and to continue to hide behind the fiction that the recession is to blame for his crimes is outrageous.
Our hearts go out to the true victims in this case. Al Moriarty may not say he’s sorry, but we’re sure that many in the community join in offering sincere condolences to all those he harmed.