Showing posts from June, 2009

Will "Nobody. . . Ever Plead Guilty Again" After Madoff?

The WSJ Law Blog has an interesting post entitled "Nobody . . . Is Ever Going to Plead Guilty Again," which asks whether anyone will plead guilty again after the 150 year sentence handed down to Madoff today. As you recall, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts, including fraud, money laundering, perjury, false filing with the SEC, and other crimes. What incentives remain for others in similar situations to plead guilty? It’s only been a few hours, but already people in the white-collar world are buzzing over 150 year the sentence imposed by Judge Chin. First, a couple notes on the sentence: Typically in white-collar cases, judges impose a sentence equivalent to the maximum statutory punishment for the most serious criminal count to which a defendant pleads guilty. In Madoff’s case, that would have been a charge of securities fraud, which carries a statutory maximum of 20 years. But Chin said he would take penalties for all 11 criminal charges and have them run conse

Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years for Ponzi Scheme

Here is a summary of the sentencing from CNN . Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in New York announced the sentence just moments after Madoff apologized to his victims. "I live in a tormented state for all the pain and suffering I created," Madoff said. "I left a legacy of shame. It is something I will live with for the rest of my life." Turning to face some of his victims, he addressed them directly: "Saying I'm sorry is not enough. I turn to face you. I know it will not help. I'm sorry." Madoff said he was not asking for forgiveness and not offering any excuses for his behavior. "How can you excuse betraying thousands of investors?" he asked. "How can you excuse deceiving hundreds of employees? How can you excuse lying to and deceiving your wife who still stands by you?" Victims urged a judge to hand down the maximum life sentence against Bernard Madoff, the mastermind of the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever.

Judge Orders Defendant to Write Book

Last week, Judge Ricardo Urbina, United States District Court Judge for the District of Columbia, sentenced a former senior pharmaceutical executive at Bristol-Myers to an unusual sentence. Dr. Andrew G. Bodnar had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the federal government about the company's efforts to resolve a patent dispute over the blood thinner Plavix. At sentencing, Judge Urbina sentenced Mr. Bodnar to two years probation, during which he must write a book about his experience connected with the case. He must also pay a $5,000 fine. Here is further information on the case from the NYT . Elkan Abramowitz, Dr. Bodnar’s lawyer, said he had never before heard of a case in which a judge sentenced a defendant to write a book. But this is not the first time Judge Urbina has demanded written penance. In 1998, he sentenced a prominent Washington lobbyist to write and distribute a monograph to 2,000 lobbyists at the defendant’s own expense. The lobbyist, James H. Lake, pl

9/11 Detainees May Be Permitted to Plead Guilty

The NYT reports that the Obama administration is considering a change in the law for the military commissions at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that would allow detainees facing the death penalty to plead guilty without a full trial. The provision could permit military prosecutors to avoid airing the details of brutal interrogation techniques. It could also allow the five detainees who have been charged with the Sept. 11 attacks to achieve their stated goal of pleading guilty to gain what they have called martyrdom. The proposal, in a draft of legislation that would be submitted to Congress, has not been publicly disclosed. It was circulated to officials under restrictions requiring secrecy. People who have read or been briefed on it said it had been presented to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates by an administration task force on detention. . . . The proposal would ease what has come to be recognized as the government’s difficult task of prosecuting men who have confessed to te

Former Enron Executive Pleads Guilty to Avoid Third Trial

The WSJ Law Blog is reporting that former Enron Broadband Services CFO Kevin Howard pleaded guilty today to one count of falsifying books and records. The plea deal comes six years and two trials after he was first indicted. Howard's first trial ended in a hung jury. The second trial ended with a conviction that was later overturned because of the government's use of the honest-services statute. Under the agreement, Howard will serve a maximum of 12 months home confinement. (A short summary of the Enron Broadband trial can be found here ). The Houston Chronicle also wrote about the plea agreement. Howard first went to trial alongside four other ex-broadband executives in 2005 in a three-month case that ended with a handful of acquittals, no convictions and jurors hung on dozens of other counts — including all pending against him. Two other broadband executives — former co-CEO Kenneth Rice and former chief operating officer Kevin Hannon — each pleaded guilty to crimes in