November 4, 2007
15 Years to Former Museum President
Fifteen years and an order to report to prison in 45 days, was the court's ruling for the former president of the Independence Seaport Museum, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer (see here). This sentence exceeds many sentences given in corruption cases (although Congress will probably argue that this is a basis to try and increase sentences in corruption cases). This is yet another example of the sentencing guidelines providing for an extremely high sentence because of a loss figure, with little regard to the fact that the individual had letters from "more than 80 people" "praising his ethics and character." (See Phil Inquirer).
Will society feel safer having a first offender of an economic crime imprisoned for 15 years as opposed to perhaps 5 years? Wouldn't any federal criminal sentence preclude this type of individual from being in a position again to commit such a crime? Wouldn't a future offender be equally deterred by hearing that someone received a 5 year sentence and is a 15 year sentence really necessary here? After all, the sentence should be deterring like minded individuals - the white collar offender.
(esp)(w/ a hat tip to Peter Goldberger)
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I've known John Carter since our days together at the University of Delaware back in the late seventies. I think his fall from grace was tragic , but I think his punishment more so and a travesty as well, bordering on cruel and unusual punishment.
Yes, John was tempted and he fell, but he also has a long history of doing good, raising millions for institutions he's headed, and being a good friend to many. Also unmentioned in all the press reports I've read is that he donated $1.5 million to the museum. Fifteen years for what he did is a gross miscarriage, especially in light of his failing health.
Lastly, I would hazard a guess that his board is not wholly without culpability in this sad and sordid affair. If only for dereliction of duty and abdication of their fiduciary responsibilities. Their piling on was more than a little hypocritical and slightly obscene.
Posted by: george comtois | Nov 21, 2007 6:35:08 PM
John Carter rates the Chutzpah in Tax Fraud Award for his conduct and subsequent whining. He should have given a modicum of thought about what he was doing before, in his own words, setting out to get "my fair share" after watching other museum insiders operate and then blaming others for his own criminal conduct. When most defense attorneys are trying to get their clients just sent to their room without dessert, Carters was arguing for a four year sentence. This has to be at the outer limits of what a tax fraud defense attorney will try for and is astounding all by itself.
Most of the low lifes that our prisons are full of aren't capable of thinking much beyond their next beer and they can be locked up for a longer time for crimes that are trivial compared to Carter's.
If the government is to get a reasonable return for the extensive resources that are required to prosecute white collar criminals, sentences are going to have to be long enough to have a deterent effect.
John Carter's well deserved legacy is going to be a World Class example of "Don't be like me."
Posted by: Michael S Cash, EA | Nov 23, 2007 10:26:43 AM