In a New York federal courtroom on Nov. 4, a man was sentenced to four years in prison after admitting that he had defrauded numerous people out of $38 million. The 39-year-old man pleaded guilty to his charges in March and told the court that he had a gambling addiction. The defendant, who had previously worked as an investment banker, could have been sentenced to 16 years in prison.
The federal judge who presided over the man's case decided to ignore the maximum sentencing guidelines after seeing evidence that he had a real gambling addiction. Many of the man's actions involved failed stock market trades that he made with investors' money. The defendant's lawyer told the court that the man had gambled on the stock market for decades, losing tens of millions of dollars in irrational trades.
The man's charges involved an alleged Ponzi scheme that began in 2014. Some of the parties that lost money in the scheme included a non-profit organization, the defendant's mother and the parents of the defendant's ex-girlfriend who had lost her life in the 9/11 attacks. Court records show that shortly before the man was arrested, he wrote a suicide note addressed to his wife as well as an apology letter addressed to his investors.
A judge will sometimes show leniency to defendants who plead guilty to their charges and provide evidence that their actions were motivated by an addiction. A criminal defense attorney might approach the prosecutor to see if there can be unanimity on this, although the ultimate sentencing decision is up to the judge.
Source: New York Daily News, "Gambling addict financier Caspersen gets four years in $38M fraud," Barbara Ross, Nov. 4, 2016