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November 27, 2007

Some other white-collar sentencing news and notes

This post on the Eleventh Circuit's affirmance of the 30-year (within-guideline) sentence of first-offender Chalana McFarland for mortgage fraud has generated lots of interesting comments about white-collar sentencing.   If folks want more grist for the mill in this arena, check out these news stories about some white-collar sentencing developments:

  • From the AP here, "Texas Oilman Handed Year Prison Term"
  • From the CanWest News Service here, "Conrad Black may face stiffer sentencing"
  • From the AP here, "High-profile L.A. lawyer gets prison for fraud, other crimes"
  • From the Honolulu Star-Bulletin here, Ex-charity worker gets 30-year term for fraud

There are lots of interesting facets to all these stories, and the Conrad Black sentencing will likely be making even more headlines as sentencing approaches.

November 27, 2007 at 10:04 PM | Permalink

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Some white-collar crime can have fantastically awful consequences or is fantastically evil. Here's an example: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/13/national/13inmate.html

A 30 year sentence for that turkey would have been just about right.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 27, 2007 10:26:41 PM

But [District Judge] Chin noted: "There's little doubt in my mind that [Oilman Oscar Wyatt Jr.] broke the law."

How little? Was it a reasonable doubt? If so, the judge should not have accepted the guilty plea per Rule 11. And was the law he likely broke the law he plead guilty to violating?

I question whether Wyatt did break a law, as it sounds like the government's allegation is more of a whiny "he should have been meaner to Saddam Hussein" rather than an actual trading with the enemy violation. But I don't know much about the case.

I wonder how much weight the letter from Farah Fawcett carried at sentencing....

Did he get exactly 1 year, or was it a year and a day? Usually if a judge is going to depart down and give someone a year, they do a year and a day so the defendant can get good time credit and only have to serve about 10 months. Oh well, either way, it appears justice was done.

Posted by: bruce | Nov 27, 2007 11:58:31 PM

Despicable. The Judge had no reason the depart and Oscar should have got the minimum 18 months at least. Yet another shining example of the awful Era of Disparity that we have entered.

Oscar knew full well what he was doing and gladly sold out his country for a buck. He's a truly evil, and vile little gnome as anyone over 40 from Houston can tell you. If you have even a glimmer of sympathy for this monster you clearly have no idea of who he is and the slimly deals he's pulled over the years.

Posted by: dweedle | Nov 28, 2007 1:13:36 PM

dweedle: I really don't know much about the case. Did Wyatt actually break the law, or is he just an asshole? Did he actually pay Saddam money for oil? Or was he just not mean enough to Saddam for the government to feel satisfied?

It's gotten to the point where I presume all white collar prosecutions are overreaching on the part of the government. The presumption is rebuttable, of course, and I certainly don't know enough about the facts of the Wyatt case to really offer a firm opinion one way or the other.

Posted by: bruce | Nov 28, 2007 3:12:49 PM

He personally ordered payments to be made to circumvent the ban on direct money payments to Iraq, all in knowing violation of the "trading with the enemies" statute. His elocution was reported in the news wherein he admits his knowing participation in the scheme. Considering some of his local exploits range from knowingly poisoning groundwater to, some yags say, murder-for-hire back in the old days, profiting from trade with enemy states is no big thing for Oscar. Honestly, federal prison couldn't happen to a more deserving old feller.

Posted by: dweedle | Nov 28, 2007 6:01:37 PM

I think we should be permitted to trade with whomever we want, except during the time of (official, declared) war. I don't see how trading with Saddam prior to our invasion of Iraq, even though we never officially declared war, is any more unethical than conducting commerce with Saudi Arabia and its leaders/royal family. Frankly, I think the latter is worse.

I'm not saying Saddam was a good guy, he was not. But short of actually trading with the enemy (the actual enemy) during war, I dont think it is proper for the government to arbitrarily declare certain nations/people to be "enemies" and off limits for trading. A free society that embraces free markets and free trade does not limit with whom its citizens may conduct business. Obviously, wartime exigencies may become the controlling issue. But until we were actually at war with Iraq, I don't see it as an evil thing (only a politically incorrect one) to have traded with Saddam. Again, trading with the Saudis is equally as 'bad' if not moreso.

Posted by: bruce | Nov 28, 2007 6:18:12 PM

Bruce: Really now. Knowingly trading with the Saudis isn't a violation of *federal law*. C'mon, it's my job to say patently ridiculous things on this blog, hands off my tinfoil crown.

Posted by: dweedle | Nov 28, 2007 7:30:59 PM

dweedle: Yeh I know, but I don't buy the whole "it's bad because it's illegal and it's illegal because it's bad" circle of reasoning. Yeah he shouldn't have done it if it was in violation of the law. But that doesn't mean he's evil. Trading with Saddam is no more immoral (though it may be more in "violation of federal law") than trading with the Saudi Royal family. This comes down to a malum in se / malum prohibitum distinction. Clearly trading with Saddam was malum prohibitum until such time as our troops were storming into Baghdad; once we were actively fighting a war against Saddam and his troops, giving him financial support became malum in se. Until such time, Federal prison was unwarranted.

I say shocking, blunt things, none of which are patently ridiculous.

Posted by: bruce | Nov 28, 2007 8:46:58 PM

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