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December 24, 2008

Naked body fraud or naked body pictures: what's worse for federal sentencing purposes?

Especially as I worry about gaining weight from too many holiday meals, this local federal sentencing story from Texas caught me eye.  The article is titled "Ex-CEO of weight loss company gets prison," and it also includes information that returns me to my concerns about disparities in how child porn downloading cases are being sentenced around the nation.  Here are snippets from an article that should be read in full:

Before learning his sentence Tuesday, former Body Solutions CEO Harry Siskind gave a tearful apology in court, but not to those who bought his sham weight-loss product that claimed people could lose pounds while they slept.

Once Siskind found out he would go to prison for more than three years for lying to keep assets hidden from the Federal Trade Commission, he became indignant.  Siskind, 53, raced away from reporters following the proceeding in a San Antonio court, giving a one-finger salute.

The 37-month sentence U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia handed him riled Siskind and his supporters, who argued that the judge was lenient last week when sentencing a man who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography, which they believe is a worse offense.  Some supporters who didn't attend the court proceeding are prominent San Antonians.

Siskind's lawyer, Robbie Ward, asked the judge to hand Siskind five years of probation.  Ward painted Siskind as "an incredibly decent man his entire life" who donated $5 million a year to charities. But in 2002, the FTC imposed a $155 million penalty against Siskind for his misrepresentations.

Ward's filings also said Siskind suffered enough, now is divorced from his wife, Patricia, and has been trying to piece his life back together since his company, Mark Nutritionals Inc., collapsed. "We are asking that you don't let this be the event that defines him," Ward said.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Harris argued that Siskind was trying to squirm out from under the terms of a plea deal that was reached in May.  He argued that a sentence within the recommended guideline range of 30 months to 37 months was appropriate.  The judge gave Siskind the high end of that range, fined him $10,000 and ordered Siskind to serve three years of federal supervision after his release from prison....

Inside the court's rotunda, Siskind complained to his friends that he was seen as worse than a "child pornographer."  He referred to Sam Mims, a New Braunfels musician and producer whom Garcia sentenced last week to five years of probation for possessing child pornography.  In Mims' case, the judge chose to give him probation rather than risk being overturned on appeal.  In two cases similar to Mims', the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has rejected prison sentences of defendants who like Mims were proactively getting counseling and hadn't acted out by inappropriately touching or molesting children.

December 24, 2008 at 08:36 AM | Permalink

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Comments

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Posted by: weightlossproduct | Mar 18, 2009 2:36:48 AM

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