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

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