04 July 2008

Quick notes on white-collar crime

Phil Bennett, subject of yesterday's entry, didn't have a good day in court.

He received a sentence of 16 years. The judge, Naomi Buchwald, seems to have started from a baseline of 20 and then asked herself whether there were any reasons for leniency, bargaining herself down by a fifth of the whole.

Here's a link.

Intriguingly, and despite all the attention Samuel Israel's flight has received in recent days and weeks, Buchwald denied the prosecution's request that Bennett be incarcerated immediately. He's expected to turn himself in on September 4th.

Jeffrey Skilling, former chief executive of Enron, is still in prison. That sentence may sound to some like the evocation of an old Saturday Night Live routine. Generalissimo Franco is, after all, still dead.

But the Skilling thing is worth mentioning because, a week ago, admirers of his were confident that a break, and perhaps even freedom for JS was imminent.

Okay, "admirers" is an excessive word in this context. But Larry Ribstein and those to whom he refers there do believe that Skilling is the victim of prosecutorial misconduct and would like to see him walk. They haven't persuaded me. At any rate, their hopes of an imminent rescue by the fifth circuit are still just ... hopes.

Mel Weiss. A month ago, Mel Weiss, once one of the most prominent class-action attorneys in the US, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for kickbacks, i.e. undisclosed payments to class representatives in class action lawsuits that his firm handled.

He broke the rules and has been punished. Risks you take, etc. But ... what is the evidence such kickbacks do harm? and to whom? to his clients? to the system as a whole? The whole question deserves some serious inquiry.

Unfortunately, its a holiday and in providing you with this three-item list, I've done as much serious stuff as I plan to do today. But I'm open, as always, for comments. Agree, dissent from, or just bloviate about any of the above.

No comments:

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.