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December 9, 2005

Interesting sentencing developments in HealthSouth case

As detailed in this news report, "Former HealthSouth Corp. finance chief Bill Owens has been sentenced to five years in federal prison and two years of supervised probation for his role in a six-year, $2.7 billion accounting fraud at the Birmingham-based health-care rehabilitation giant."  Though it is hard to tell from the news story, it appears that this sentence was below the government's recommended sentence, although it also appears that the government moved for a departure on the basis of 5K1.1. 

As the press story indicates, the sentencing judge, US District Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn, made a number of interesting comments at the sentencing:

In a surprising statement to Owens, Blackburn said, "I do not believe you were the architect of the fraud. That person [referring to HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy who was acquitted in June of 36 criminal counts] in my view escaped justice."

Blackburn said she imposed the sentence not to deter Owens from future acts but as a deterrent to white-collar crime in general. "Corporate offenders are nothing more than common thieves wearing suits and wielding pens."

Additional coverage of the Owens' sentencing can be found in this Reuters account and this AP account.  the Reuters story notes that Owens' sentence is "the harshest sentenced meted out so far to any of the 15 executives charged in the case" and more than double the length of the next harshest sentence. 

Additional coverage of many post-Booker white-collar sentencing issues can be found in these posts:

December 9, 2005 at 04:49 PM | Permalink

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