If I understand it, according to Halacha, if Reuven steals $100 from Shimon, he has to first return the money (possibly plus another $100), apologize; then regret, confess, resolve, and abstain. If he's done all of that, he's done repentance (teshuva); and if I'm not mistaken, he would now be considered a kosher witness and no longer a "thief."

Where does government punishment fit into all of this? Suppose Reuven committed tax evasion/fraud, and served time in jail (and has also regretted, confessed, resolved, and abstained); is that good enough teshuva? (I don't know what monetary fines the govt. imposes, or what happens if Reuven since lost the money?) What if Reuven stole from his investors? From a corporation?

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    Fraud/evasion carries a $100,000 fine, 3/5 years in prison and interest up to 75% of the tax not paid. What is the question? That he's not apologizing to the American public? – YDK Sep 14 '10 at 14:09
  • Thanks, I didn't know that (feel free to list that as an answer btw). Okay, so if someone cheats the government they can end up paying everything back as well as serving time; I'd assume that would be teshuva (assuming remorse etc.). What happens if they don't have the money now? And how much is paid to whom for stealing from investors or a corporation? – Shalom Sep 14 '10 at 14:37

The Torah requires veheshiv es hagezeila- that means the keren. Any profits that were expected are a) not collectible by a beis din (indirect loss) and b) unprovable (how do we know where the plaintiff would have invested the money). So return of the principle would be "good enough", assuming there's no other civil judgement. A person wanting to do absolute teshuva would obviously do more.

Back in the day, if he was broke, he'd be sold into slavery to pay the principle. This is assuming he has already liquidated his property. Today, the government garnishes wages.

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    So if he embezzled $5M but blew it all, then spent three years in jail, and will have wages garnished the rest of his life but will never make up the complete $5M, would he be disqualified halachically as a witness for life? – Shalom Sep 14 '10 at 16:28
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    He is still considered an avaryan until he is mekayem v'heshiv. – YDK Sep 14 '10 at 17:11
  • Would he be pasul l'eidus? – Shalom Sep 14 '10 at 17:17
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    Sorry, I meant that therefore he is pasul l'eidus. – YDK Sep 14 '10 at 17:58

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