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July 9, 2005

The evolution of white-collar sentencing

Ebbers1 On-line at CNN/Money you can find this interesting article, entitled "Ebbers: Wrong place, wrong time," which spotlights the evolution of federal sentencing outcomes in high-profile white-collar cases. As the article effectively explains: "Ebbers' day of reckoning in court follows nearly two decades of increased focus on white-collar crimes and the punishments doled out by judges."

The article effectively notes that both the S&L crisis of the 1980s and then the Enron debacle more recently have altered prosecutorial priorities and public perceptions.  And among other interesting features of this article are a pair of charts comparing the sentences of "famous" corporate fraud defendants of the past (e.g., Ivan Boesky, Charles Keating. Mike Milken) and of today (e.g., Andrew Fastow, the Rigases, Jamie Olis). Ebbers2_1

These charts (which can be more easily read if you click on them) have placed a question mark next to Bernie Ebbers.  It will be interesting to see the sentencing outcome and reactions to that outcome when Ebbers get sentenced by US District Court Judge Barbara Jones later this month.  In the meantime, you can catch up on the arguments in Ebbers' sentencing proceeding and consider post-Booker white-collar sentencing more broadly through prior posts set out below:

UPDATE: Following up this post, Dr. Paul Leighton sent me a link to his webpage where he has a series of commentaries entitled "A Tale of Two Criminals: We're Tougher on Corporate Criminals, But They Still Don't Get What They Deserve."   These commentaries, while noting we are getting tougher on corporate crime, explore whether the sentences consistent with sentences for non-violent street crimes and whether they make sense in light of the social harm done.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ellen Podgor at the White Collar Crime Blog has some comments on the upcoming Ebbers' sentencing here.

July 9, 2005 at 01:26 PM | Permalink

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