Category Archives: Sentencing

Can Michael Cohen Reject a Presidential Pardon? Yes. But Would He?

On August 21, 2018, former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to multiple criminal counts, including campaign finance fraud. During his plea hearing, Cohen implicated the President in the crime, saying that Cohen had paid Stormy Daniels (a) at … Continue reading

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Why Isn’t Michael Cohen Getting a Cooperation Agreement? (Part Two)

Last week, I wrote about the somewhat surprising fact that Michael Cohen pleaded guilty, allocated at the plea hearing that President Trump directed him to make an illegal campaign donation, and yet didn’t have a written cooperation agreement. In fact, … Continue reading

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Why Isn’t Michael Cohen Getting a Cooperation Agreement? (Spoiler: He Probably Is) (Part One)

Much was made this week of the fact that Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty without a written cooperation agreement. He pleaded guilty to multiple federal offenses, including tax fraud, campaign finance violations and bank fraud. The guidelines range … Continue reading

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Lawyers as Filmmakers: The Sentencing Mitigation Film

By Dan Portnov Every CLE panel on sentencing includes a judge. And often the judge emphasizes the importance of presenting your client as a person and not just a defendant. That can be a challenge at a sentencing hearing unless … Continue reading

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“Restitution for a Reckless Bank? A Dubious Remedy Indeed” – Judge Posner’s Bank of America Smackdown

Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit—love him or hate him—just wrote a(nother) scathing opinion. He remanded a criminal restitution order, concluding that Bank of America was not entitled to any restitution for fraudulent mortgage loans because of the bank’s … Continue reading

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Prosecutors Take Fair Approach to Sentencing in Fraud Case Against Executive (No, This Is Not Clickbait.)

As I’ve written about many times before, the loss amount drives many white-collar criminal sentences. The government’s view of loss amount plays a significant role in the court’s ultimate determination of that factor. the government often takes a very aggressive … Continue reading

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The Hard Numbers on White-Collar Criminal Sentences

Calling all data geeks: The United States Sentencing Commission just issued its “Overview of Federal Criminal Cases, Fiscal Year 2015.” It’s a fairly short summary of the longer “2015 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics,” which is also worth checking out. … Continue reading

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Fifth Circuit Slaps Down District Court’s Loss Calculation in Contracting Fraud Case

The government knows—and exploits the fact—that loss amount is the driver of white collar sentences. In criminal contracting fraud cases, the government has taken the position that the relevant loss is the entire amount of the contract that was wrongfully … Continue reading

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Taking the Fifth for Financial Information: The Blankenship Case Is (Almost?) Done

Last December, Donald Blankenship was found guilty of conspiracy to violate mine safety laws. This is a misdemeanor. He was acquitted of the more serious felony charge against him for false SEC filings. In early April 2016, Mr. Blankenship was … Continue reading

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An Appeals Court Finally Takes a Practical Approach to Sentencing in Government Contracting Case (and an Interesting 4th Amendment Issue)

Loss calculation drives sentencing decisions in many white-collar cases. The higher the loss amount, the longer the sentence.Courts usually take an expansive view of what counts as a “loss” for sentencing. In a recent Third Circuit case, however, the court … Continue reading

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