Tuesday, May 3, 2005
Ben Andrews, former head of the Connecticut NAACP, was convicted by a jury of corruption charges related to sharing a $1.5 million consulting contract with former Connecticut State Treasurer Paul Silvester in 1998 in connection with steering $150 million of state pension assets to a private equity fund. Andrews testified in his defense that the payment was not a bribe, but the jury convicted him on all counts and U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns found that he committed perjury at trial based on the jury's verdict. Yet, Judge Burns granted a downward departure to Andrews in sentencing him to a 30 month term of imprisonment, below the Guidelines range of 57-71. According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office (here), the judge noted Andrews' "substantial service to the community and lack of a criminal history" in sentencing him to the lower term.
Doug Berman has raised the question whether white collar defendants will be the primary beneficiaries of the new flexibility afforded by the Supreme Court's decision in Booker (see Doug's post here and discussion of the sentencing here). Departures on these grounds are discouraged under the Guidelines, and this case may be an example of a defendant with an otherwise clean record and history of representing a popular organization benefiting from a sympathetic situation. Bribing a public official and then lying about it at trial, however, is a serious offense that I doubt deserves a nearly 50% downward departure. (ph)