Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Government Seeks 15-Year Term for Olis on Resentencing

Former Dynegy executive Jamie Olis became something of a poster child for harsh sentencing in white collar crime cases when he received a 24-year sentence for his role in an accounting fraud at his company.  The Fifth Circuit reversed the sentence, finding that U.S. District Judge Sim Lake used an incorrect methodology that attributed all of the decline in the company's stock to Olis' misconduct and directed the lower court to consider other market forces that may have affected the stock in calculating the loss.  Olis is scheduled to be resentenced on Jan. 5, 2006, and the U.S. Attorney's Office has weighed in with a recommendation of a 15-year prison term.  Under the 2001 Sentencing Guidelines applicable to Olis' case -- albeit in an advisory capacity since Booker -- the government would be arguing that the loss from the accounting fraud was greater than $50 million to bring the sentence within that range.  Whether the district court will accept that figure remains to be seen, and the case illustrates the key role that the loss calculation plays under the Guidelines for fraud cases (Sec. 2B1.1), particularly if the judge adheres to the loss table in setting the sentence.  The government is recommending sentences of 30 and 24 months for two other Dynegy executives who entered guilty pleas and testified against Olis.  A Houston Chronicle story (here) discusses the government's position on sentencing. (ph)

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