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January 2, 2006

Will it be a happy new year for Jamie Olis?

When discussing here and here the Fifth Circuit's reversal of the 24-year sentence of former Dynegy executive Jamie Olis, I predicted that his resentencing would be very interesting.  That resentencing is scheduled for this Thursday, January 5th, and papers filed in the resentencing confirm my prediction.  (Thanks to a helpful reader, below you can download sentencing memoranda filed by Olis and the government.  They make for fascinating reading.)

As first noted here, despite the Fifth Circuit's reversal of the high loss calculation in the first Olis sentencing, the government is again claiming Olis should be held responsible for huge losses.  The loss calculations, along with other arguments about Olis' culpability, lead the government to urge a guideline sentence of at least 188 months.  Meanwhile, lawyers for Olis, stressing Olis' personal background and family situation while working through the sentencing factors of 3553(a), do not propose a specific sentence but argue generally against the need for a significant prison term.

Because of the intricate and high-profile facts and the reversal in the Fifth Circuit, the Olis case is a fascinating case study in the important and nebulous nature of loss determinations under the guidelines.  But, even more compelling is the tension here between the long sentence that the guidelines seem to suggest, and the much lower sentence that would seem to satisfy Congress' command in 3553(a) that a sentencing judge impose "a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes" set forth in 3553(a)(2).

Since predictions are cheap, I will make some: the government won't even get more than 10 years for Olis, but the Houston Chronicle's wish for time served will not be granted, either.  I think a sentence of around 5 to 7 years is likely, although I would not be surprised if it comes in much lower or much higher.  And, whatever the number on January 5, it seems safe to predict someone will be appealing.

Download olis_resentencing_memo.pdf

Download govt_dynegy_resentencing_memo.pdf

January 2, 2006 at 01:40 AM | Permalink

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» Jamie Olis resentencing hearing postponced from Houston's Clear Thinkers
The long-awaited resentencing hearing in the sad case of Jamie Olis that was scheduled to take place on January 5 has been postponed indefinitely to give U.S. District Judge Sim Lake time to review recently-filed materials in the case relating... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 4, 2006 6:16:13 PM

» Jamie Olis resentencing hearing postponed from Houston's Clear Thinkers
The long-awaited resentencing hearing in the sad case of Jamie Olis that was scheduled to take place on January 5 has been postponed indefinitely to give U.S. District Judge Sim Lake time to review recently-filed materials in the case relating... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 4, 2006 7:01:26 PM

» Jamie Olis resentencing hearing postponed from Houston's Clear Thinkers
The long-awaited resentencing hearing in the sad case of Jamie Olis that was scheduled to take place today has been postponed indefinitely to give U.S. District Judge Sim Lake time to review recently-filed materials in the case relating to the... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 5, 2006 5:21:59 AM

» Jamie Olis resentencing hearing postponed from Houston's Clear Thinkers
The long-awaited resentencing hearing in the sad case of Jamie Olis that was scheduled to take place today has been postponed indefinitely to give U.S. District Judge Sim Lake time to review recently-filed materials in the case relating to the... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 5, 2006 8:14:20 AM

Comments

I think your prediction is dead accourate. Given Judge Lake's unwillingness to release Olis pending resentencing, coupled with his record on past white collar cases, there is virtually no chance that he will be sentenced to time served. (Notably, not even the defense is explicitly asking for that.)

A sentence above ten years would be egregious, although I must say it wouldn't surprise me, coming from this judge. Still, I'll agree with five to seven as a likely outcome.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jan 3, 2006 5:22:29 PM

Isn't this really a study in the extreme penalty of not cooperating with the government? Olis' boss and only person who testified against him is getting a 30 month recommendation while Olis is going to swing for over 15 years if they get their way. I find it interesting that the prosecutions only complaint in that cooperation is that his boss continued to testify that he believed Alpha was a "good deal" and refused to admit his "lie". And the other cooperating witness was not called because of her inability to explain "complex" issues to a jury. Hmmm-- It doesn't appear to be overly complex for an accomplished CPA to say, "we lied" to a jury.

Government also states they have repeatedly offered Olis the chance to plead guilty and provide testimony on higher ups yet "by his own silence, he confirms his status as the top conspirator". This is absolutely ridiculous to believe that a mid level tax guy was really the puppeteer controlling the leaders at this or any large corporation; but being completely ridiculous seems to be working well for the government in these cases. Maybe Olis thought that you had to have intent to commit a crime before you could say you were guilty- silly concept these days (ask David Duncan-snatched from the jaws of prison himself because someone woke up and pointed out that his plea agreement did not require him to admit intent to commit a crime. And the price of being able to withdraw that agreement is getting the Enron Task Force as his new best friends whether he likes it or not).

If this judge gives Olis those 5, 10 or more years while giving his boss 2 and his other non-testifying "conspirator" 18 months, the only thing he will be deterring is persons trying to exercise their supposed right to a fair trial. By the way, they really ought to provide a warning label on the right to trial in the constitution- Warning: highly hazardous to your health. It really is the least they could do.

Posted by: FJO | Jan 4, 2006 5:44:16 AM

I agree with FJO that this is indeed a study in the penalty of not cooperating with the government.

However, like it or not, this isn't new. The idea of "copping a plea" has been around for a long time, and a reduced sentence was always part of the bargain.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Jan 4, 2006 8:48:53 AM

i'll presume that he'll get the same as his boss, Gene Foster.

Posted by: Bob | Jan 4, 2006 9:37:31 AM

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