Friday, June 29, 2007

Scrushy and Siegelman Go Directly to Jail

It took a few days of hearings before Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller finally sentenced former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy and former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman to prison for their convictions on conspiracy and corruption charges.  Although the government sought sentences of twenty-five and thirty years for the two, Scrushy received a sentence of nearly seven years (82 months), and Siegelman was sentenced to a bit more than seven years in prison (88 months).  Both men testified at the sentencing hearing, requesting mercy from the court. 

While the sentences were lower than the prosecutor's recommendation, Judge Fuller ordered the defendants taken into custody immediately to begin serving their terms, denying requests for bail pending appeal.  In white collar crime cases, it is much more common for a defendant to be given a reporting date -- usually a few weeks out -- so that the Bureau of Prisons is ready to process the person to the facility where the sentence will be served.  By having them placed in custody immediately, Scrushy and Siegelman will likely be held in a facility temporarily until assigned to a prison, a process that can take weeks -- or, as Jamie Olis learned the hard way, even months.  Defense counsel for each is likely to file a petition for bail pending appeal with the Eleventh Circuit, but even that process, while expedited, can take weeks and the prospects for success are cloudy at best.

Scrushy and Siegelman have vowed to appeal, and given how hard-fought the case has been, there's a decent chance prosecutors will appeal the sentence, arguing that the court miscalculated the gain from the bribery that should result in a higher calculation under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.  A story (here) discusses the sentencing. (ph)

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Sielegman's sentencing came as kind of a shock. The thought that a former state governor could be embroiled in something this sleazy is reall hard to believe.

--Jack Payne

Posted by: Jack Payne | Jun 29, 2007 9:34:42 PM

Thinking back 12 years ago, I would never have considered that I, a competent, well educated man, would be sitting in prison. That was a life educational experience where I learned, really for the first time, that there are consequences to every unethical choice we make. Though one might think that we can avoid the consequences, the reality is that they are unavoidable and certain. We just don't know how or when we will face the inevitable.

As a former CPA, through a series of bad choices or serious ethics lapses, I became a white-collar criminal. Now, I am an executive in a publicly held company and an international speaker. I now take the time to review my lessons from prison and write about those experiences so that others may gain benefit and perhaps learn from the experience of others. Some of us learn lessons the hard way. Yet, through sharing the experience of my incarceration and return to productivity, others have stated that they've been able to look at their choices in a different and more productive way.

This was a very painful time in my life with many lessons to learn. I learned about punishment and self-esteem based on internal validation rather than external validation. I also learned that many people repeat the lessons of family members gone before them and not realizing they truly had other choices. Now, some twelve years later, I find that the personal growth from the prison experience provided a foundation for help to others. The revelation to speak to high school and college students about ethics has manifested through the establishment of the Choices Foundation, which provides a forum to educate young people on the effects of the choices they make.

It's extremely powerful to see and hear how young people react to the messages of choice and consequence. All too often they don't experience the direct consequence of the unethical choices they make. The detriment of youth is you haven't lived long enough to see the link between choice and outcome. Likewise, many youth, other than perhaps those extremely disadvantaged, have no connection with anyone who has been incarcerated for their actions. Then there are those who experience being incarcerated as a way of life for their family. Therefore, being exposed, in a direct way, to someone who has made unethical choices and faced the consequences, and returned to society to success, is profound to some.

All too often we find that "ethics" and "ethical choices" dominate our media through news events of what has been done wrong. In order to change our focus, we must create an awareness of what should be done right. Ethics and ethical thoughts must begin with an understanding that one cannot escape the consequences of their personal choices.

Posted by: Chuck Gallagher | Jun 30, 2007 10:11:49 PM

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