Friday, August 5, 2005

Prelude to Sullivan Sentence

Today Betty Vinson and Troy Normand are being sentenced. These two individuals worked in the accounting department for Buford Yates (set for sentencing on August 9th) at WorldCom. (see post here) The Wall Street Journal reports here on the sentence of Vinson. The low sentence is not surprising in light of the role this individual played and the cooperation provided. The sentencing of Troy Normand is set for 2 P.M. today.   

These sentences are a prelude to the Scott Sullivan sentencing that is scheduled for August 11th.  Sullivan was the key witness that assisted the government in obtaining the conviction against Bernard Ebbers. The government asked for low sentences in these cases because of the defendants' cooperation in the trial of Bernard Ebbers.  Ebbers received a sentence of 25 years. 

It is important for the government to have cooperators receive low sentences as a message that cooperation can reduce a sentence significantly and thus others will come forward and cooperate to get high-ups. It is the essence of the 5K1.1 motion that the government files asking the court for a lower sentence based on the cooperation provided by the defendant. But what about defendants who have nothing to offer the government, or defendants that believe they are innocent and take the route of trial?  Do these defendants suffer unjustly because of their circumstances or their availing themselves of their constitutional right to a jury trial?


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