Former Penn State Student Makes State Record Restitution Payment to the University
Former Penn State student Craig Tonik broke a Pennsylvania record by making the state’s largest ever restitution payment in the amount of $779,851.
In 2005, Tonik was arrested as a suspect for a fire set to the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. Although the building was under construction, Tonik still managed to cause more than $500,000 of damages. In addition to the arson, Tonik also had over a dozen incidents of institutional vandalism for which he was being charged, mostly on Penn State buildings including the Earth and Engineering Sciences, Leonhard and Applied Sciences buildings. In many of the incidents, Tonik spray-painted red anarchy symbols and the word “TANG,” which police believe stood for Terrorist Anarchist Ninja Guys; this prompted FBI notification regarding what was thought to be a terrorist initiative. As a result of these actions, Tonik was charged in six different criminal cases, where he plead guilty to two felony counts and one misdemeanor of institutional vandalism.
Tonik was sentenced to two to five years in prison and ordered to pay Penn State the seemingly unrealistic amount of $950,000 in restitution. When he was paroled in 2007, Tonik began to make irregular payments on his restitution, totaling only $2,360 by March 2014.
Tonik’s father was killed on the job in 2008 at the Philadephia Industrial Correctional Center. Tonik and his family filed a number of civil suits with individuals and groups related to the accident, resulting in “a settlement for nearly $3 million” that was reached in 2012. Before Tonik could fully access this money, however, The Centre County Probation and Parole Department made sure that the money was “held by a third party until the issue of Penn State’s restitution could be resolved.”
Earlier this year, Tonik appealed the original restitution case after he was awarded money from his father’s wrongful death case. After talks with Tonik’s attorney and all involved parties, Penn State reduced the original amount by approximately $225,000 and Tonik agreed to pay.
The largest restitution payment prior to this in Pennsylvania was $565,133, according to the Centre Daily Times; in Centre County, it was a mere $151,161.