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November 14, 2008

Friday federal sentencing lesson: do not trust a Quaker ... a U Penn Quaker, that is

Because I graduated from Penntwo rival institutions, I may get too much schadenfreude from stories about University of Pennsylvania Quakers getting into serious federal sentencing trouble.  Still, I cannot help but wonder what Ben Franklin might say, in the wake of this recent story about the Penn student hacker and child-porn downloader, about this new story concerning the sentencing of Penn alum involved in identity fraud.  Here are the basics:

University of Pennsylvania graduate Edward Anderton of Everett, Wash., admitted teaming with his jet-setting college girlfriend, Jocelyn Kirsch, to steal the identities of friends and neighbors in Philadelphia in 2006 and 2007.

Together, they gleaned more than $116,000 in goods and services. They used the money for expensive salon visits, fancy dinners and lavish trips to places such as Paris and Hawaii.   A U.S. attorney has called them "poster children" for identity fraud.

More details about the case can be found in this news report, which indicates that the Bonnie to Anderton's Clyde has already been sentenced harshly:

Kirsch, 23, a former Drexel University student who drew heavy media coverage when her photo, posed in a bikini, was posted on the Internet, was sentenced last month to 70 to 81 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno.

Kirsch, who experts testified has serious psychological problems and a history of retail theft, including charges she used a stolen credit card while on bail awaiting a federal court hearing, faced a longer potential prison term than Anderton...

In a federal court filing this month, Anderton's attorney, Lawrence S. Krasner, argued that Anderton deserves a lesser sentence than his former paramour because his criminal conduct lasted only as long as the relationship with Kirsch.  Krasner wrote that Anderton has worked since his guilty plea saving money to pay victim restitution....

Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen filed a sentencing memo urging Robreno to imposed a sentence within the federal sentencing guideline range of 57 to 65 months.

Perhaps Professors at U Penn need to start reminding all students of Penn's motto, "Leges sine moribus vanae," which roughly means "Laws without morals are useless."

UPDATE:  According to this new press report on the sentencing, it seems that Anderton got a below-guideline sentence:

Edward K. Anderton, the honor student and University of Pennsylvania economics grad whose life was consumed by his romantic and criminal partnership with his girlfriend, was sentenced this afternoon to 48 months in prison by a federal judge.

Anderton, 25, made an emotional, self-abasing 20-minute statement to the judge in which he apologized to his victims, his parents and family, and others that he said his conduct harmed.

November 14, 2008 at 03:25 PM | Permalink


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Harshly? Identity theft is a serious crime, causing damage far beyond the simple taking of property. It is like robbery and residential burglary in that sense. The criminal may see it as only taking stuff, but he inflicts additional and even greater damage on the victim in the process.

With that plus a record of other offenses, I don't see 70 to 81 months as harsh at all.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Nov 14, 2008 9:24:51 PM

I see identify theft as very serious and this case justifies all the time that these two received.
I do not think that prison is always the answer on property theft. I would prefer that we send them to a salt mine in Siberia and work off the money that they owe the victims--at minimum wage. So, if they stole $100,000 and lived it up at posh restaurants then justice requires that they work this off at say $7.00 an hour x 40 hours a week, with overtime on "salt Sunday" they could perhaps work off the debt in say 360 weeks. Or is my math wrong?
The guy in the equation could keep his soul together by having a photo of his girlfriend in the bikini etched on his cell wall.

Violated the trust of friends and neighbors by stealing their identity and their money? Add two years in the saltmine.

But, my question is, what is the relevance of the fact that the woman posed in a bikini on the internet or otherwise? I think a photo on this blog might liven things up a bit.

Posted by: mpb | Nov 15, 2008 4:28:54 AM

Just how, precisely, does a defendant in federal court get a "70 to 81 month" sentence?

Posted by: | Nov 15, 2008 10:26:25 AM

How did Roberno impose a sentence of 70-81 months?

Posted by: Alex | Nov 15, 2008 6:48:30 PM

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