People accused and convicted of embezzlement, fraud, insider trading or other white collar crimes gained new advocates in early May, when the Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) shifted their focus from drug crimes to financial crimes. The advocacy group claims that sentences for economic crimes are often excessive and inconsistent.
White collar crime involves financial crimes, including: Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, copyright infringement, identity theft, money laundering and cybercrime. More serious offenses include embezzlement, RICO crimes, etc.
There are generally at least two groups of thought: punishment and leniency. Defense lawyers, advocates and federal judges have pushed for lighter sentences for white collar offenses. However, many consumer advocate groups have faulted the U.S. Congress for not punishing more Wall Street executives after the recent financial crisis.
FAMM points to some extremely harsh sentences when it lobbies for leniency. For example, the group notes, Matthew Kluger was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2012 for insider trading. A hedge fund manager, Raj Rajaratnam, was sentenced to 11 years in prison, also for insider trading. Sentences are generally linked to the size of the financial loss caused by the crime.
However, insider trading is a financial crime; no one was physically injured. Conversely, both Kluger and Rajaratnam were sentenced to longer terms in prison than some offenders convicted of manslaughter, sexual abuse, arson or armed robbery.
FAMM clarified that it did not have an issue with sentences imposed on criminals like Bernie Madoff who engaged in large-scale frauds. The Ponzi scheme mastermind was sentenced to 150 years in prison after admitting to running a $150 billion fraud.
While the Justice Department is opposed to a complete revamping of the system, it has said it is open to changes which could reduce sentences.
John W. Tumelty has over 25 years of experience defending the rights of people facing criminal charges. If you or someone you love has gotten into trouble, contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty today