Will Holder Memo Reduce DOJ-Acknowledged Sentencing Disparities?

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Time will tell whether Attorney General Eric Holder’s recent policy memo to federal prosecutors will actually reduce white-collar sentencing disparities that Justice Department officials have admitted are widespread and significant.

“We are especially concerned about increased disparity in white-collar sentencing,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Criminal Division told American Bar Association conference attendees in February. Breuer said, “It is not uncommon for a health care fraud defendant to be sentenced to 15 or more years in one district court, while, in the same week, another defendant in another court involved in a larger fraud is sentenced to a very short prison term.” Breuer noted that an appellate court recently affirmed a 25-year prison sentence for someone involved in a $40 million fraud while, almost simultaneously, another defendant involved in a $1 billion fraud got just five years in prison.

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