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November 3, 2006

Another corporate executive gets a below-guideline sentence

As is often true in cases with rich facts, there are many ways to assess the sentence of 12 years' imprisonment given yesterday to Sanjay Kumar, the former chief executive of Computer Associates International, for orchestrating a multi-billion dollar accounting fraud and then obstructing justice.  Details about the interesting case and the sentencing are available from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times and the AP.

According to the WSJ report, it appears that Kumar's guideline range suggested a life sentence, despite the fact that Kumar pleaded guilty and seemed to accept responsibility.  But apparently Kumar received a significant downward variance:

Judge Glasser said that under federal sentencing guidelines he could have given Mr. Kumar a lifetime sentence. But he said such a long sentence would "shock the conscience of this court." Sentencing factors included the eight-count indictment to which he pleaded guilty and the economic harm of his actions, which Judge Glasser said exceeded $400 million.

According to the New York Times account, "Judge Glasser said that federal sentencing guidelines did not permit him to consider charity work in determining punishment."  This is arguably accurate, but charity work would surely be a permissible sentencing consideration after Booker, and my sense is that Kumar's past good deeds did influence the extent of his variance to some extent.  (See a recent robust debate here about whether there should be a prior good works guideline.)

The Wall Street Journal has this companion chart detailing prison terms recently handed out to many high-profile white-collar offenders.  I believe that every one of these offenders sentenced in federal court received a below-guideline sentence except for Jeff Skilling.

November 3, 2006 at 07:47 AM | Permalink


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This is how the Kumar sentence should work:


Posted by: Bruce | Feb 14, 2007 4:38:26 PM

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