White collar defendants in cases involving bank fraud, insurance fraud, securities fraud and other matters are often portrayed uniformly by the press, that is, with a broad brush that identifies them as unrepentant and scurrilous operators motivated solely by efforts to defraud others.
Human motivation and individual differences of course render that description true, sometimes, with it being just as clear that the media is often not averse to depicting an individual in an unfair and unbalanced way.
Arguably, such has been the depiction most often accorded Rajat Gupta, a former Goldman Sachs director who went to trial earlier this year for his insider trading role in a hedge fund fraud scheme.
Gupta was routinely depicted by federal prosecutors as the “big fish” and foremost defendant among a number of other people charged in the fraud conspiracy. Federal sentencing guidelines recommended an eight-year prison term on his charge.
He received, instead, a two-year term, which marked, obviously, a far more lenient outcome.
The obvious question is this: Why?
Foremost is certainly that sentencing mitigation was influenced by Gupta’s legal defense team, which made efforts to portray Gupta in the manner that the federal judge who sentenced him ultimately perceived him. Although the judge termed Gupta’s actions a “breach of trust,” he also cited Gupta’s “extraordinary devotion, not only to humanity writ large, but also to individual human beings in their times of need.”
Indeed, Gupta — like many persons charged with crimes — has a personal record replete with salutary actions and efforts on behalf of others, and the honest portrayal of him as, in the judge’s terms, “a good man,” undoubtedly factored into his sentencing.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can speak further on the issue of sentencing mitigation and reduction.
Source: New York Times, “Ex-Goldman director to serve 2 years in insider case,” Peter Lattman, Oct. 24, 2012