« Hoping (perhaps foolishly, yet again) latest GOP debate addresses crime and punishment | Main | "Jaycee Dugard sues feds, citing Garrido parole failures" »

September 23, 2011

Notable state fraud ruling affirming 54-year sentence for white-collar offender

A helpful reader alerted me to an interesting opinion from the Indiana Court of Appeals in Reeves v. Indiana, No.  77A01-1012-CR-646 (Ind. Ct. App. Sep. 19, 2011) (available here), which rejects a state white-collar defendant's various complaints about his convictions and his sentence of 54 years of imprisonment for running what turned into a kind of faith-based Ponzi scheme.  This discussion of the sentencing issues provide background on the nature of the crime and why the long punishment was upheld in Reeves:

Although Reeves's crimes were property crimes, they were not ordinary property crimes, resulting in staggering losses to thousands of victims: $13,149,000 lost by 2904 victims, at least some of whom had their retirement savings wiped out.   Among the victims was Steven Duncan, who lost $600,000, money that was intended to fund his retirement. Duncan testified that the loss ruined his marriage and his life and that his current blindness might have been avoided had he been able to afford medical insurance. Reverend Roger Wright, who had invested his entire retirement savings in Alanar, lost it all, a total of $179,152.   Rev. Wright, like many ministers, had not paid into the Social Security system and so was completely dependent on his retirement income, which is now gone. Indeed, a large percentage of Reeves's victims were elderly, a group he targeted.

Moreover, the trial court found, and the record indicates, that Reeves exploited the religion and faith of his victims.   After the terms of a bond issue were finalized, Alanar would organize a “kickoff” night at the church in order to start selling bonds.  Alanar's sales presentations at the kickoffs included reminding potential bondholders of their “Christian responsibility” to support the church by buying bonds....  Many of Reeves's victims trusted him because they believed him to be a Christian and considered the fact that they were investing with a Christian company when deciding whether to invest.  In light of the very large number of victims, the vast amount of their losses, and the elements of cynical exploitation to Reeves's scheme, we consider his crimes to be very egregious.

While Reeves's lack of a prior criminal history and expressions of remorse do him some credit, it certainly should be noted that evidence presented at trial does not.   Reeves testified that he felt there was nothing wrong with what he was doing at Alanar. Two Alanar employees, however, testified that they faced retribution when they began to understand the true workings of Alanar....  Reeves's reckless disregard for bondholders' money was also expressed by his decision to purchase Porsche Boxsters for his three sons as a bonus.  While there are some redeeming aspects of Reeves's character, the very egregious nature of his crimes and the negative aspects of his character fully justify his enhanced and consecutive sentences.   Reeves has failed to establish that his fifty-four-year aggregate sentence in inappropriate.

September 23, 2011 at 09:35 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e2015391d17cc9970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Notable state fraud ruling affirming 54-year sentence for white-collar offender:

Comments

In this case all i can say is good riddance to bad rubbash!

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 23, 2011 1:56:11 PM

Just Another Guy

No problem here with the sentence, albeit I'm an older person, less objective than Wall Street youngsters and more objective than the Queen of Hearts.

Posted by: JAG | Sep 24, 2011 7:22:27 AM

my problem with it JAG is it's bad enough to be using fraud to steal...but then to target a vulnerable target population and then use RELIGION to acomplish it. time to shove the perp UNDER the jail!

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 24, 2011 12:56:42 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB