“I was wrongly convicted of murder. I spent nearly 17 years in prison fighting my case. When I finally won a new trial, I chose Greg Robey to be a part of my defense team. He found an FBI agent who had worked on the case in the 1980s, along with critical pieces of evidence that we thought were long lost. After a long and very hard-fought trial, I was found Not Guilty of all charges. I owe my freedom to Greg Robey and my defense team.” -R.R., Ravenna, Ohio
When Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for financial fraud, many people felt this was not long enough. There was also a widespread perception that this harsh sentence was an exception to the rule that white collar criminals generally get off easy. In fact, courts have significant leeway and may impose sentences that are surprisingly harsh or lenient.
A recent Ohio fraud case appears to confirm the myth that the court favors white collar criminals. Michael E. Peppel was charged with conspiracy, money laundering and filing fraudulent reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission when he was chief executive of MSCi, a technology company. While investors in the company lost approximately $18 million dollars, Mr. Peppel allegedly pocketed nearly $7 million from illegal stock sales. Ignoring the recommended eight to 10 years, the judge used her discretion and sentenced him to seven days in jail.
A federal appeals court may decide to revise this sentence. The judge defended her decision by referencing the 113 letters she received from colleagues and family members describing his philanthropic activities and the fact that Mr. Peppel had started a new successful business. Letter-writing campaigns have been successful in getting sentences reduced in other investor fraud cases, as well.
The Peppel case raises some interesting questions about the most effective punishment for business people who commit crimes:
The benefit of having an experienced attorney on your side is not a myth. The Law Offices of Gregory Robey are committed to protecting the rights of those accused of white collar crimes and securing the best outcome in your case.