DOJ: Sentencing Panel Should Review Inconsistent Penalties


In recent years, federal judges imposed sentences of one to four years on five defendants in the AIG fraud case that caused $500 million in losses; 25 years on Ronald Treadwell for a Ponzi scheme involving a $40 million loss; and 3 1/2 years on former Impath Inc. President Richard Adelson for a $50 million securities fraud, says the National Law Journal. Such disparate sentences don’t make sense, ignore federal sentencing guidelines, and are a sign of a potentially very big problem, says the U.S. Department of Justice. DOJ wants the U.S. Sentencing Commission to investigate, with special attention to guidelines for fraud and child pornography crimes. Some experts say the commission may not want to examine it closely.

The department called for a “comprehensive review” of the state of federal sentencing in its most recent annual report to the commission on June 28. In the five years since the U.S. Supreme Court declared federal sentencing guidelines advisory, the department said, prosecutors’ experiences and data “suggest that federal sentencing practice is fragmenting into at least two distinct and very different sentencing regimes.” If allowed to go unchecked, the two regimes will lead to unwarranted sentencing disparities, disrespect for federal courts and sentencing uncertainty that could lead to more crime, the department said.

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