September 17, 2006
It is likely that word will arrive this week on what sentence Jamie Olis, former employee at Dynergy who was convicted for his role with Project Alpha, will receive. Olis originally received a sentence of 24+ years, but the Fifth Circuit (Hon. Edith Jones authoring the opinion) sent it back for re-sentencing. Professor Doug Berman, of the Sentencing Law & Policy Blog, has a wonderful recap of the arguments made during the resentencing hearings (see here). This is a wonderful opportunity for a judge to note the sentences received by co-defendants Gene Foster, Olis' boss who was given a sentence of 15 months in jail, and co-worker Helen Sharkey who received a sentence of one month, and recognize that our system of justice should not punish individuals who avail themselves of their constitutional right to trial by jury.
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It seems to me that the problem may be that the sentences judges give to cooperating defendants is too light. Gerger admits it is proper to seek to deter crime with long sentences. With these corporate criminals a long sentence may well be necessary to deter the theft of huge sums that these criminals have access to. Whats 2 years in jail compared to the probably successful theft of millions. Yes, the cooperating criminal should not get off so lightly. If the cooperating witness received the sentence they deserved then these sentences of the non-cooperating criminal does not seem to long even if it is 24 or 25 years. We should also remember another important function of the criminal system is to provide lawful source of retribution for the victims. The pensioners who lost huge sums, in some cases finding themselves impoverished at a time when they are most vulnerable and dependent on there nesteggs. The only reason corporate criminals have received such light sentences is the White Collar halo, and I suspect those who decry the heavy sentences of these senselessly greedy executives are subject to that emotional falacy of believing that they are really criminals. They are and their theft is all the more reprehensible because they didn't need the money and they haven't a thought of their victims peril. Raise the cooperating criminals sentences, the damage they have done justify it.
Posted by: Ronald X. Groeber, Ball State Univ | Sep 18, 2006 7:57:45 AM