Editorial: Judge has chance to fix ridiculously light sentence
The administration of justice sometimes is difficult to understand.
Take the case of Michael Peppel, a former chief executive officer of Dayton, Ohio-based MCSi Inc. Peppel pleaded guilty in 2010 to money laundering, conspiracy to commit fraud and falsifying financial reports. Prosecutors said rather than tell investors that his company was struggling, he "cooked the books." That allowed the value of the company stock to remain high when he sold 300,000 of his personal shares for more than $6 million.
His actions cost investors at least $18 million, prosecutors say, and wiped out many of their retirements funds.
A serious offense worth a severe penalty? The judge in the case apparently didn't think so. Federal Judge Sandra Beckwith sentenced him to one week in jail in 2011, saying he was "a remarkably good man." The recommended sentence for his crimes was between eight and 10 years in prison.
Victims of Peppel's actions cried foul, and prosecutors appealed the sentence. As a result, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati overturned the "drastically" light sentence , and ordered the judge to re-sentence Peppel. Her decision is expected next month.
This time, we hope the judge does a better job of weighing the damage that Peppel did. Although literally crying for the judge to stay with the one-week sentence, he acknowledged in a hearing that his conduct had been wrong and that he knew it was wrong.
Just because this falls into the category of white-collar crime doesn't mean the perpetrator should get off lightly. His actions severely affected many lives and he should pay a penalty in line with what's recommended.
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