Federal judges in northern Alabama increasingly are handing down lighter sentences in white-collar cases and that has the potential to send the message that crime pays, U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance told the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the Birmingham News reports. Vance said she was asked to represent the Department of Justice at the hearing. “I think the commission is eager to hear the approach the Obama appointees are taking,” she said.
Vance said the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court Booker case, which made federal sentencing guidelines advisory, “has made sentencing less uniform and thus less predictable for prosecutors and defendants alike.” In Northern Alabama, she said, “A potential white collar thief could reasonably conclude that fraudulent conduct  is actually cost-effective.” Vance cited an appeals court ruling that former HealthSouth executive Ken Livesay, who had been put on probation in what the newspaper called a massive accounting fraud.