CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A case study of prosecutorial charging and substantial assistance

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a story examining sentencing patterns in mortgage fraud cases, based on a review including students from Duquesne University School of Law under the supervision of Professor Wesley Oliver. In part:

[T]he effort by Pittsburgh's federal prosecutors to punish fraudulent mortgage brokers, appraisers, closing agents, property flippers and bank employees can claim 144 people charged, more than 100 sentenced and no acquittals.

That undefeated record, though, came at a price: Some of the worst offenders got extraordinary deals in return for their testimony against others.

A review by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Duquesne University School of Law students of 100 completed cases showed that the sentences of mortgage-related criminals in the Pittsburgh area were driven more by their degree of cooperation with prosecutors than by the number of people they scammed, the dollars they reaped or the damage they did to the financial system. Some of the most prolific offenders used their central places in the fraud conspiracy to secure light sentences.

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