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April 3, 2006

More long (but below-guideline?) white-collar sentences

As noted in this weekend post, white-collar criminals David Wittig and Douglas Lake, two former Westar Energy executives convicted of looting the Kansas utility of millions, went into their sentencing on Monday with the the U.S. Probation Office recommending life sentences.  Fortunately for Wittig and Lake, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson decided to give the defendant a small break.  As detailed in this AP story, Judge Robinson sentenced "CEO David Wittig to 18 years in prison [and] Wittig's co-defendant, Douglas Lake, the former executive vice president of Westar, to 15 years in prison."  Also, "Wittig and Lake also were ordered to pay fines of $5 million each, in addition to millions of dollars in restitution."

Given that probation offices typically recommend within-guideline sentences, I am inclined to speculate that Judge Robinson technically impose below-guideline sentences.  But, since she gave 18 years and 15 years to two offenders in their 50s, I would hardly call these sentences lenient.  Indeed, these sentences highlight that many below-guideline sentences may still be quite harsh.

Some related prior posts:

UPDATE:  Additional interesting coverage of these sentences is available in articles here and here from the Topeka Capital-Journal.

April 3, 2006 at 06:44 PM | Permalink

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