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July 13, 2009

A week worth watching from a white-collar sentencing perspective

Late monday afternoon is the scheduled federal sentencing of lawyer Marc Dreier in New York City, who might be viewed as a kind of mini-Madoff.  As detailed in prior posts here and here, there are lots of interesting elements to the Dreier case that make it the first post-Madoff must-watch event for white-collar sentencing fans.

But the Dreier case just gets the white-collar sentencing action started this week.  As detailed in this new article from The Legal Intelligencer, which is headlined "Judge's Calculation May Reduce Fumo's Sentence," there is also a notable political corruption case due to be sentencing this week in Pennsylvania.  Here is how this article sets up the sentencing excitement in this other notable white-collar sentencing case:

A two-page order handed down on Friday was the first piece of good news in a long time for former state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo -- whose sentencing on fraud and obstruction of justice charges is set for Tuesday -- as U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter effectively slashed Fumo's sentencing recommendation in half. But by the end of the day, prosecutors had filed a 58-page brief that said Fumo, 66, should be hit with a longer prison term than the federal guidelines recommend because his crimes rocked the public's confidence in the integrity of public officials and because of his perjury at trial and his "exceptionally egregious" cover-up scheme.

The original recommendation from a probation officer said Fumo's sentence should be in the range of 21 to 27 years in prison. But the new calculation announced by Buckwalter, once it is finalized, could reduce the recommendation to a range of nine to 12 years.

It's still impossible to guess what Fumo's ultimate sentence will be because Buckwalter has yet to decide whether to grant downward departures from the guidelines range for Fumo's "good works," although the judge has ruled out any departure based on Fumo's ailing health. And since the guidelines are now "merely advisory," Buckwalter has the freedom to decide for almost any reason to grant a "variance" and impose a term either above or below the guidelines range.

July 13, 2009 at 09:40 AM | Permalink


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This jurist is decidedly on the "lighter end" of the sentencing spectrum and his failure to "find facts" that are obvious to most is not unusual. It can be considered a form of "guideline nullification" in that most of these decisions never come to light unless the Government pursues a labor-intensive appeal. That may well occur in this "high-profile" case.

Posted by: mjs | Jul 13, 2009 2:52:36 PM

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