After emotional testimony from victims and Gina Clark, Judge Rufo sentenced convicted Gina Clark to 4 - 5 years in state prison, with 10 year's probation upon release. She is forbidden from operating or working for a charitable organization and must have no contact with the victims of her crimes. She will serve her sentence in MCI Framingham which is a medium security facility.
Ms. Clark, along with her now defunct charitable organization Touched by Angels, was convicted on 52 counts on Thursday, the crimes ranging from several counts of larceny over $250, to running an illegal raffle, to failure to pay employee overtime. Touched by Angels was fined $14,000, while the restitution Ms. Clark must pay to victims is to be determined at a hearing in June.
After the sentencing, Marybeth Manchuk, the aunt of Crystal Manchuk, expressed outrage at the shortness of the sentence, saying that what Clark did "isn't even human."
Sentencing commenced at 9:30 this morning in Barnstable Superior Court. The trial began April 8 and lasted for 17 days, with 11 hours of jury deliberations.
Clark, wearing a black-and-white dress with crucifix and rosary beads necklace, was accompanied by her attorney, Joan M. Fund. Many of Clark's family members were present, and the courtroom itself was packed, as many of Clark's victims were present, including: Kim Manchuk, whose daughter, Crystal Manchuk, was struck by a car and killed in 2008, Natalie Duarte, Manchuk's mother, and two young men who sat with the two of them. Duarte and Manchuk both wore t-shirts with Crystal's image on them. Also present was Carol Harnois, whose daughter, Katie Smith, died of leukemia in 2007 at the age of 17, and Bobbi-Jean and Robert Finn, who suffered financial hardship when Robert was involved in an accident while doing tree work.
Rufo began the sentencing with a request for the audience to control their emotions, and exhibit “proper decorum.”
Rufo then addressed the victims' right to address the court, and stated that he had three victims' impact statements from individuals who did not wish to read their statements aloud.
Kim Manchuk was the first victim to read her statement aloud. Her statement focused on the impact of Clark's deceit, not in financial terms, but in emotional. She detailed how she felt guilty for not being able to form a bond with this woman, who had told her that she had held her daughter in her arms before she died. Manchuk also said that she felt very guilty for not sensing Crystal calling for her as she died, which Clark said she did. She also brought up the stone that Clark gave her, saying that Clark had said she had held it in Crystal's hand before she died.
Manchuk “treasured” the stone. Due to Clark's actions, she said, she now goes through the pain of losing her child over and over again.
Carol Harnois was next to read her statement. She said that her daughter was so excited about Clark's help, and had begun to believe that “some people had good in them.” Clark had the “audacity” to send a $50 check to the funeral home, which Harnois said was an insult to her daughter's memory.
Sue Callow “honestly thought that she [Callow's daughter Samantha, who died in a car accident] was going to get a proper burial.” Callow said in her statement that her daughter still has not been properly buried, and she used to be a “very trusting person” before Clark's deceit. She talked about the anxiety and stress caused from losing a child, and how Clark had told her that she, too, had lost a child.
“I thought I was not alone,” she said.
Callow said that had an “empty, empty feeling,” and that she felt sorry for Clark's family.
Callow talked about the good that came from the tragedy, namely, the fact that her town “backed her,” supporting her through her pain.
“I hope that justice comes today,” she said.
David Morrissey, whose son, Kristofer Morrissey, died in an accident in 2008, was next to speak. He said that, after losing a child, “[you] can't get on with your life,” and he talked about the “pittance” that his family was given by Clark. He spoke of the shame when his friends and family would ask how the benefit went.
He talked about how, when he asked Clark for receipts, she told him that his son in heaven would be “so angry” with him.
“I'm a real shadow of a man today,” he said, adding that he could not protect his son after his death.
Clark had someone to speak on her behalf, an older man who said that he had known Clark “since the day she was born.” He said that Clark did not have “an evil bone” in her body, and she wanted to help people.
In discussing sentencing, Assistant Attorney General Steve Adams asked Judge Rufo to consider the financial and emotional harm done by Clark, her number of victims, the significant losses, and her previous instance of shoplifting over $1,000 worth of merchandise. Under these circumstances, he said, an “enhanced penalty” was appropriate.
Fund reminded the judge that he had received 15 letters from Clark's family, and had heard from her friends, one of whom was Darlene Johnson, a witness for the Commonwealth, who, Fund said, wrote in support of Clark. Fund's speech concentrated on the fact that many individuals depend on Clark, as she has an adopted one-year-old and five-year-old, and five children in total, as well as two grandchildren. Fund said that Clark was willing to pay restitution, and she asked for the court's leniency.
Clark exercised her right to address the court, saying “I thought we were doing everything right.”
By we, Clark was referring to Dawn Hand, who she says she opened the “business” with. She said that she paid Hand $600 a week, and put $20,000 of her own money into TBA.
“I put my heart and soul into this business,” she said.
Around this time, Clark began to cry loudly and profusely.
She repeatedly insisted that she was at the accident, and “I might have done the documents better…I guess I didn't..and I apologize to all of them.”
Follow this link to see a list (at the bottom of the article) of all previous coverage of the Gina Clark case.