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February 12, 2010

Ponzi schemer gets sentenced knocked down to 310 years from 330 years

The Tenth Circuit today has largely affirmed, through this opinion, the convictions and sentences of white-collar offenders Norman Schmidt and Charles Lewis, who together conducted a Ponzi scheme through a number of investment companies and caused investor losses of more than $40 million. For sentencing fans, the most notable aspect of the Tenth Circuit ruling involves this determination concerning Schmidt's sentencing appeal:

The district court properly calculated Schmidt’s guidelines sentencing range and he has not overcome the presumption of reasonableness of his within-guidelines 330-year sentence (which is reduced to 310 years by our setting aside his convictions on four counts).

I suspect that Schmidt won't be too eager to celebrate the fact that his projected release date has now been moved up from the early fall of 2291 to the early fall of 2271. Indeed, because Schmidt is in his mid 70s, I would wager he won't end up serving even one-tenth of his new sentence. Just leave it to a white-collar scoundal to find a technicality like life expectany to ensure he never has to serve the bulk of his (apparently reasonable) prison sentence.

February 12, 2010 at 04:26 PM | Permalink


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i have to agree. all this shows is a continuing bit of stupidity and showbotting....the 320 year stupidty was bad enough but the you WASTED MORE TIME AND MONEY to knock off a whole 10 years!

what a bunch of retards!

Posted by: rodsmith3510 | Feb 13, 2010 3:36:52 AM

Ponzi himself would have died in obscurity but for a stream of gullible, greedy people eager to get rich quick.

Of course it would take a tremendous toll on the burgeoning crimnal-justice workforce, but wouldn't it just be easier and and a whole lot cheaper to periodically remind folks to beware of high-yeld, quick-return, can't-lose pitches?

Posted by: John K | Feb 13, 2010 1:37:54 PM

The longest ever Federal white collar sentence is 835 years, and belongs to Sholam Weiss. His direct appeal to the 11th Circuit was dimissed under the Fugitive Disenfranchisement Doctrine, and Section 2255 Habeas Corpus Motion was filed within one year of his convictions becoming final. Thus, Weiss's trial and sentence have never been reviewed by another Court. The appeal of his 2241 Habeas Corpus Petition is presently pending before the 11th Circuit. The Habeas Petition involves his arguments concerning misrepre- sentations made by the U.S. Department of Justice to the Austrian Minister of Justice about guaranteeing him a direct appeal of his convictions and sentence, to obtain his extradition back to the United States.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Feb 13, 2010 5:08:57 PM

Jim, if you'd be interested in helping with my writing project (tentatively titled White Collar Lynchings) please contact me at mrtpwjr47@kc.rr.com

I'll look forward to hearing from you.


Posted by: John K | Feb 13, 2010 9:34:49 PM

When oh when will we see the first government officials indicted for the biggest Ponzi scheme ever???

Posted by: CrisisMaven | Feb 14, 2010 3:10:51 PM

Simply summing up sentences for multiple counts, which is what produces these kinds of absurd sentences, is fundamentally a flawed approach. At the extremes the relationship between the number of crimes committed and the appropriate sentence is almost always non-linear.

Modest sentence modifications from the appropriate sentence for the most serious crime committed, if that had been the only crime, are almost always a better fit to an intuitive sense of justice.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Feb 17, 2010 12:57:35 AM

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