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December 10, 2009

Seventh Circuit questions probation sentence for political fraud

As detailed in this local report, which is headlined "Appeals judge rips Vrdolyak sentence: Posner says probation ‘depreciates the significance of the crime’," it sounds like a panel of the Seventh Circuit might be on the verge for finding a lenient sentence substantively unreasonable.  Here are the details:

An appellate judge ripped into the probation sentence of former Chicago Ald. Ed Vrdolyak at a hearing today, saying it “depreciates the significance of the crime.”  Appeals Judge Richard Posner extensively questioned why Vrdolyak got no prison time even though he pleaded guilty to fraud involving the sale of a Gold Coast medical school building.

When he sentenced Vrdolyak, U.S. District Judge Milton Shadur said he gave the 71-year-old probation in part because of an overwhelming number of letters the judge had received offering character references, including one from Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.  “A sentence like that really depreciates the significance of the crime,” Posner said in court today.  “It just makes the crime seem trivial.”

The comments came during arguments before the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner, who initially asked that Vrdolyak receive up to 41 months in prison, appealed the sentence.  In court today, Niewoehner asked the appeals judges to send the case back to Shadur for resentencing....

Vrdolyak pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the $15 million sale of a Gold Coast building belonging to the former Chicago Medical School, now called the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.

Vrdolyak schemed with school board member Levine to split a $1.5 million kickback from the sale of the building to Smithfield Properties Development. Levine became a cooperating witness in the government's probe of the deal and wore a wire on Vrdolyak. The sale went through, but the kickback never happened once Levine’s cooperation became public. 

December 10, 2009 at 02:52 PM | Permalink


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When a judge is saying something fervid, for the benefit of an audience, making them FEEL he's against the government, it's an act. Court of Appeals are pals of the district court, especially the old judges. The rebuke doesn't equal a written opinion reversing the underlying order. Milton Shadur looked to Cook County hacks when he was seeking federal appointment (why him afterall?...read Justice Stevens comments as to his/Stevens being named first from this city over Shadur....bleccch. I prefer Vincent Bugliosi's take on federal judges). In that same time period, Eddy was beginning to warm his fast feet in Cook County politics.

Posted by: FluffyRoss | Dec 11, 2009 9:13:10 AM

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