Remorse: Moral anguish arising from repentance for past misdeeds.
With every crime there is always the chance of getting caught. Even the least imaginative individual is capable of understanding the potential fallout of arrest, including a trial and incarceration. Police officers know better than anyone what is in store for someone tapped by the long arm of the law.
Skeeter Manos, ex-Lakewood cop and newly convicted felon, would have known exactly what awaited him if his embezzlement were uncovered. Given his lavish lifestyle, including big ticket purchases, gambling and vacations, Manos should have assumed his arrest would be a “when, not if” situation.
Last Friday, Manos was given an opportunity to speak prior to being sentenced on one federal count of wire fraud. As reported in the Trib, (6/29), the former Lakewood police guild treasurer eloquently expressed his sense of remorse, correctly framing his actions as a betrayal of his former colleagues, his family and his profession.
The judge was unimpressed. Manos received the high end sentence – 33 months – for stealing money earmarked for family members of the four slain Lakewood officers, as well funds from the police guild.
Why the rough treatment? I can think of a couple reasons.
With the exception of sociopaths (who are unburdened by superfluous notions such as empathy), our response to shame is a simple matter of emotional circuitry. When faced with an opportunity of sufficient temptation, coupled with enough greed to overcome our moral objections, we are all capable of finding ourselves in a tight spot. Getting caught is, unfortunately, what kicks in our remorse.
From that perspective, Manos’ remorse was a knee jerk response. Despite his deep shame, his expression of bitter regret suggested that he really had not given sufficient thought to the possible repurcussions.
I also believe that Manos’ profession was a factor in his sentencing. As a police officer, Manos’ integrity was a currency that was deemed acceptable on the street and in the courtroom. The powers and authority granted to a cop are formidable, and the trust placed in each and every one is what makes our entire system credible.
On Friday, Skeeter Manos faced the federal judge as a private citizen and as a a former police officer. He spoke as a human, filled with remorse for having stolen from those who trusted him. Then he was sentenced by a criminal justice system that gave him a power and authority over others. The backlash was harsh, for Manos and his family, but the court’s message was clear:
As a police officer, you were extended credit on your integrity – now it’s time to pay up, with interest.