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January 13, 2015

Brief account of what proposed fraud guideline changes might amount to

This new Reuters article, headlined "U.S. panel proposes changes to white-collar prison sentences," provides a reasonable summary of the likely import and impact of the guideline reform proposes announced by the US Sentencing Commission late last week (discussed here). Here are excerpts:

Some executives and others convicted of stock fraud could face shorter prison terms under a U.S. commission's proposal to change how white-collar criminals are sentenced. The U.S. Sentencing Commission on Friday released proposals to amend advisory federal guidelines that would shift the emphasis in calculating a sentence for frauds on the market to financial gains instead of investor losses.

The proposal follows years of criticism by defense lawyers and some judges who say that the guidelines focus too much on financial losses caused by fraud, leading in certain cases to sentences that are too harsh. Judges have discretion to impose any sentence, but are required to consider the guidelines.

In stock fraud cases, losses can be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, contributing to an advisory sentence of life in prison. Under the commission's proposal, judges in these cases would consider the gains from a fraud, a number defense lawyers say would often be considerably smaller.

The Sentencing Commission has scheduled a March 12 hearing on the proposals. The panel has until May 1 to submit any amendments to Congress. If Congress does not act by Nov. 1, the changes become law....

The commission has proposed setting a threshold sentencing level for gains, ensuring punishment in cases where profits are minimal. Depending on what floor is set, there is a "very good chance a number of cases would result in lower guideline sentencing ranges," said David Debold, a lawyer at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who heads up an advisory group to the commission.

Defense lawyers cautioned that the proposed changes would not always result in a lower sentencing range. Some frauds like penny stock manipulation, for example, could involve significant gains to defendants and might still lead to lengthy sentences. Other proposals would affect the weight given to factors such as the harm to victims and the sophistication of a fraud.

Some defense lawyers say the proposals overall do not sufficiently emphasize a defendant's culpability and leaves loss as a driving factor for the bulk of fraud cases involving identity theft, mortgage fraud and healthcare fraud. "These changes don't go nearly as far as we would have liked," James Felman, a Florida lawyer and member of an American Bar Association task force advocating changes to the guidelines.

U.S. District Judge Patti Saris, the commission's chair, said in a statement that the panel did not consider "the guideline to be broken for most forms of fraud," but that its review had identified "some problem areas where changes may be necessary." 

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January 13, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Let's make it easy for the laweyr, using fourth grade math.

The value of a human life is set at $6 million. Count up the damage, subtract any benefit. If the net is over $6 million, the defendant gets a summary death penalty, including all hackers and identity thieves. If they live in a foreign country, have a trial in absentia, to which an American defense lawyer is invited to mount a defense.

If found guilty, have the result reviewed by experienced accountants for any arithmetic errors. If the amount of net loss remains above $ 6 million, the defendant has assassinated a economic person. If local, execute him on the spot. If in a foreign country, send the drones to kill him and anyone around him. It does not matter. Everyone has the responsibility to avoid the vicinity of a defrauder. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 13, 2015 9:39:17 PM

If the net damage is less than $6 million, assume an economic lifespan of 60 years, from age 20 to 80. Give a year of prison for each $100,000 in net damage. Defendants should be able to mitigate the net damage by any way they can, restitution, cooperation of testifying against Mr. Big, specific warnings about future terrorist attacks. These are valuable and should be subtracted from the damages.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jan 13, 2015 10:42:41 PM

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