Monday, January 10, 2005

Rowland's Plea Plays the Sentencing Guidelines Game

As discussed on the Sentencing Law & Policy Blog, a New York Times article (Jan. 10) reviews the plea deal former Connecticut Governor John Rowland agreed to right before Christmas (see post here) that included an admission to receiving unlawful gifts totaling approximately $107,000.  According to the article:

[P]rosecutors wanted Mr. Rowland to admit to taking gifts worth at least $70,000, to bolster their case that the 15- to 21-month recommended sentence he faced as a public official under the guidelines was warranted. As long as that figure was reached, the lawyers said, prosecutors were willing to give Mr. Rowland leeway on which gifts to acknowledge as improper. At the same time, Mr. Dow sought to keep the figure below $120,000; even a tad more would have added three months to the recommended prison time.

In the end, the $107,000 compromise paved the way for the recommendation that Mr. Rowland receive a 15- to 21-month sentence, which Judge Dorsey can accept or increase or decrease.

The article also notes that Rowland drew Judge Peter Dorsey, who "has been challenged by prosecutors in the past for leniency." The plea agreement acknowledges that Rowland can seek to have his Sentencing Guidelines score reduced for his "minor role" in the offense and for extraordinary factors, including "unique financial circumstances and professional and individual community contributions." The agreement also permits Rowland to argue for a downward departure if the minor role provision is not applied.  Interestingly, the plea agreement does not contain a 5K1.1 cooperation down departure provision.  If Booker/Fanfan ends up declaring the Guidelines unconstitutional, Rowland's sentence could be much less than the 15-21 month Guidelines range.  (ph)

Corruption, Prosecutions | Permalink

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