Monday, September 11, 2006

Government Appeals Sentence of Former Wal-Mart Executive

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Arkansas announced that it will appeal the sentence given to former Wal-Mart senior executive Tom Coughlin for defrauding the company by submitting fake invoices.  While the Federal Sentencing Guidelines called for a sentence in the 24-30 month range, U.S. District Judge Robert Dawson sentenced Coughlin to 27 months of home confinement.  Judge Dawson relied on alternative grounds for sentencing outside the Guidelines, finding that Coughlin's serious health issues warranted home confinement, and that his charitable works and the effect of his guilty plea on his standing in the community, among other things, were sufficient punishment and that a prison term was not necessary to fulfill the goals of sentencing.  A variance of that degree was likely to draw an appeal from federal prosecutors, particularly the latter grounds cited by the judge.  A Morning News (N.W. Arkansas) story (here) discusses the government's sentencing appeal.

In addition to having to defend the sentence, Coughlin has been sued by the other former Wal-Mart executive caught up with assisting him in the embezzlements from the company.  Robert Hay, a former vice president of merchandising systems who pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with falsifying the invoices for Coughlin, filed a lawsuit in state court seeking damages for emotional distress.  In addition, Coughlin still faces a civil suit from Wal-Mart over his conduct, so his legal worries are far from over. An AP story (here) discusses Hay's lawsuit. (ph)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2006/09/prosecutors_app.html

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