Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive July  6, 2009)

Just do what you can

By Bob Cooper



Recently, Bernard Madoff, architect of one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in US history was sentenced in US Federal Court in New York to 150 years in prison.  His massive fraud ruined thousands of lives, deprived people of their life savings, and led to suicides.  Thanks to US Federal Sentencing Guidelines Madoff will do virtually every day of it and will die in prison, which is exactly what he deserves.  The sentence imposed reflected the courtís revulsion at the carnage Madoff left in his wake and the need for deterrence and denunciation.

Contrast that with what happened to those behind the Eron Mortgage Corporation scheme.  It matters not that the scale of the crime was somewhat smaller.  The devastation wrought on Eronís investors in human terms was every bit as real.  One of the principals, Brian Slobogian, who was facing 33 charges, did a deal with the Crown and pleaded guilty on a reduced number of charges.  Despite the introduction of 150 victim impact statements at Slobogianís sentencing hearing attesting to that damage, he was sentenced to 6 years.  Know how many years he actually spent behind bars?  One.  Yes, thatís right, one.  Then he was right back on the golf course.  Thatís deterrence for you.  No doubt there are scores of other corporate sociopaths out there engaged in the same frauds right now.  And why not?  It may as well be legal here.

One might think that Slobogian got a reduced sentence after expressing remorse or paying back some of the money heíd stolen.  Donít make me laugh.  He got his deal because of the chronic underfunding of the Attorney-Generalís Ministry where prosecutors are told to deal off every case they can as a cost-saving measure, rather than going to trial.  He got his deal because the criminal justice system in Canada in general and BC in particular, couldnít care less about victims and is far too weak-willed to do whatís required to protect them.

Bernie Madoffís sentence is by no means the end of his troubles.  You can bet there will be squads of FBI and IRS agents tracing and seizing every dollar he ever stole and every piece of property ever purchased with that money.  Theyíll also be seizing every piece of property owned by his family that can be traced to the scheme.  Just last week US Marshals seized his Manhattan penthouse and threw his wife out wearing the clothes on her back.  The news media noted that she wasnít even allowed to keep her fur coat.  Think Slobogian is under the same sort of scrutiny?   Is government going after his assets to reimburse his victims or pay for the cost of the investigations or legal proceedings?  Donít hold your breath, heís still living large and I doubt anyone from Corrections is even asking how heís supporting himself.  If there were any appetite for justice here, Slobogian would be stripped of every dime and live out his days under a bridge, over a steam grate, or in one of Mayor Robertsonís shelters.

The hundred and fifty years that Madoff got is unusual in a liberal jurisdiction like New York and speaks volumes for that reason.  This type of sentence is normally found a little south of there in places like Florida where, some years ago, a State judge sentenced a man in his late 20s to 75 years for Murder.  When the accused protested that he ďcouldnít do no 75 yearsĒ, the judge simply smiled and said, ďThatís alright son, just do what you canĒ.  A little more of that attitude is sadly needed up here.

I canít imagine the outrage that Slobogianís victims must be feeling.  Itís absolutely disgraceful and no amount of legal rationalization can make it otherwise.



Eron Mortgage Corporation prosecution   .pdf

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Contributing 2009