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September 22, 2006

Jamie Olis gets 6 years at resentencing

Thanks to Tom Kirkendall's post here, we can get the initial highlights from the Jamie Olis resentencing hearing, where Olis received a sentence of six years. This is, obviously, a huge reduction from his initial sentence of 24 years, though many could (and surely will) still debate whether it is a sentence "sufficient, but not greater than necessary" to achieve the sentencing purposes set forth by Congress in the Sentencing Reform Act.  Here is Tom's description of the basis of sentence (which will be in a full opinion I'll post once available):

During the hearing, Judge Lake read portions of a lengthy written opinion that he has written on the Olis resentencing that he issued after the hearing. Although Judge Lake found that a guideline sentence for Olis would be in a range of 151-188 months based on an estimated $79 million damage amount (based on the intended tax benefit to Dynegy from Project Alpha), he concluded that Olis deserved a non-guideline sentence because of Olis' exemplary character, the fact that Olis did not personally gain from Project Alpha, and that Dynegy did not fail as a going concern as a result of the transaction. Judge Lake also concluded that the extensive publicity relating to Olis' case and other recent white collar business cases has sufficiently informed the business world of the severity of fraudulent business conduct that principles of general deterrence do not require a guidelines sentence.

The Houston Chronicle has this account.  Larry Ribstein adds some quick thoughts here, and Ellen Podgor has another thoughtful reaction here.

UPDATE:  The Olis resentencing opinion runs 34 total pages, and it can be downloaded below.  Here is the key conclusion from Judge Lake:

Having considered all of the factors mandated by Congress, including the sentencing guidelines and policy statements, the court concludes that a sentence within the applicable guideline range would not be reasonable, and that a non-guideline sentence of 72 months in prison is appropriate.

Download olis_sentencing_order.pdf

September 22, 2006 at 03:56 PM | Permalink


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Exactly, how can anyone determine that an all-in-one sentence is reasonable (congruent with all of its provocations, proportional to all of its provocations, fair, and cost-effective).

Posted by: Tom McGee | Sep 22, 2006 5:54:20 PM

Cost-effectiveness is not in the court's province to decide. Congress has chosen a sentencing system that heavily emphasizes incarceration for both retribution and deterrence. It's not the judge's role to second-guess that policy choice.

The subjective nature of the phrase "reasonable sentence" is the very reason the Guidelines were enacted. It leads to a system where sentencing is a mathematical formula, and judges become calculators.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Sep 25, 2006 1:07:12 PM

Thank GOD the judge came to!! Jamie Olis did NOT deserve a 6 year sentence, nonetheless a 24 Year sentence! When you have Andy Fastow ONLY getting 6 years for a crime that was so blatantly worse than what Jamie did, 24 years was inhumane. The judges residing over these cases need to see beyond the politics, media blitz and public outcries and truly look at the case and the crime committed. You can not put Jamie Olis in the same situation as Andy Fastow, Ernie Ebbers and Dennis Kozlowski which the latter two received the heavier sentences. These men stole from their company and shareholders, they deserved the heavier sentences. Jamie did not deserve to be put in the same category as these men. Congress and the public wanted a witch hunt and they got one, and unfortunately Jamie got caught in the middle of tabloid journalism by the Wall Street Journal and a disgruntled intern who did not get a job with Dynegy.

I was in banking and worked for a major European bank that lended heavily to Enron, El Paso and Dynegy. What was done at Enron was blatant fraud, but what happened at Dynegy was never meant to be fraud. I honestly believe there was a mistake on Jamie's part but there was no intent for him to pocket millions the way Andy Fastow pocketed. Jamie did not contribute to the demise of a corporation and billions of dollars lost. We all have to remember that he was never accused of taking millions of dollars from Dynegy and having extravagant $2 million dollar parties in Sicily or coming up with wild off balance sheet sheet deals to hide debt. He does not even deserve to go to jail, but 6 years is still better than 24 years. You can not help but feel the injustice when the judge handing Jamie his sentence saying he handed it with a 'heavy heart' and that 'even bad things happen to good people.' I never met Jamie personally, but spoke to him on many occasions on different deals(I also spoke to Andy Fastow many times as well) and until this day, I believe he is innocent.

Posted by: N Pham | Sep 26, 2006 3:11:43 PM

I read about Jamie Olis in the Wall Street Journal of 6-12-07. He got 24 years (later commuted to 6 years) , his boss got 15 months!! What's going on here?

Webster's dictionary defines "Extort" as "to get from someone by threats, misuse of aouthority; and "extortion" as "an official who extorts".

Our public prosecutors, Elliott Spitzer and many others, are nothing more than Extortionists. They tell the company to stop helping an employee's defense, or risk the indictent of the entire firm. Sounds like extortion to me. . Olis didn't do what he did for his own personal benefit, other than keeping his job. His boss, and boss' boss had to know what was going on and even direct it. And the $79 million tax benefit went to SHAREHOLDERS, not to him! Our legal system is completely run amok.

I am not a lawyer, but an engineer and small businessman, who is simply horrified at what is happening.

Posted by: John Stoffel | Jul 13, 2007 6:51:56 PM

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