If you want to understand the power of mitigation factors at a federal
sentencing hearing, look no further than the sentencing of Rajat Gupta
before Judge Rakoff in the SDNY.
Mr. Gupta, a former Goldman Sachs board member, was convicted of 3 counts
of securities fraud and 1 count of conspiracy for passing inside information
(regarding Warren Buffet’s involvement with Goldman). Prior to sentencing,
federal prosecutors submitted memoranda that requested that the court
sentence Mr. Gupta to a sentence within the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
In Mr. Gupta’s case that was roughly 8-10 years.
But, Mr. Gupta’s federal defense attorneys provided the court with
a long history of Mr. Gupta’s charity and philanthropy and otherwise
very productive life. In fact, Microsoft founder Bill Gates drafted a
letter in support of Mr. Gupta for his work in helping the world’s
most neediest people.
Ultimately, Judge Rakoff sentenced Mr. Gupta 2 years, which was a sharp
deviation from advisory 8-10 year guideline sentence. The sentence underscored
the power of one’s mitigation and how it can counter the potential
punishment from illegal behavior. The sentence also is a shining example
of how much of a role an advisory sentencing guidelines can play in someone’s
life. For Mr. Gupta, it was the difference of 6 years.