Many of you probably recognize this photograph of Bernie Madoff, the "investment fraud king," who is presently trying to serve several lifetimes in prison, (i.e. he was sentenced to serve a whopping 155 years in prison!) But did you know that there are "miniature Madoffs" all over the country? And did you also know that the trend is toward enhanced sentencings in many of these white collar criminal cases?
For instance, here, in Augusta, Georgia, the local media are publishing reports about a local insurance agent who is slated to be sentenced in federal court soon. The agent pled guilty in federal court a few months ago after reportedly admitting to defrauding friends and customers, (many of whom are elderly), out of about $2 million. Just like Madoff, the agent reportedly promised to invest the customers' money, but then spent it on himself.
In this case, like many other fraud cases around the country, the government is seeking an upward departure from the agent's federal guidelines sentencing range. And believe me, while we may all pray for an "upward departure" when we die, an upward departure in federal sentencing is not a good thing! It means that this defendant may face a significantly higher sentence than in a typical criminal case. And again, this is the trend, for better or for worse, (depending on your perspective), for white collar criminal defendants. In other words, criminal defense lawyers are no longer assured of probationary sentences for their clients.
What do you think about this trend toward tougher prison sentences in white collar crime cases? I'll bet we already know Bernie Madoff's opinion on this subject, don't we!?