Mitigation when it comes to Federal Sentencing

Posted by Joseph F. Sullivan | Oct 26, 2012 | 0 Comments

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.

About the Author

Joseph F. Sullivan

Born in Jamaica, Queens to working class parents, Joseph Sullivan became the second member of his family to attend college and the first to obtain an advanced degree. He graduated cum laude from Temple University School of Law. While there, he was a writer and editor of the Temple Law Review. ...


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