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Focus: White collar crime and Federal Sentencing Guidelines

A recent article in Forbes Magazine focuses upon what its commentator sees as a strong anomaly in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines that many judges follow when imposing sentences on defendants charged with federal crimes.

Namely, the disconnect attaches to sentencing for white collar crime offenses, which can often seem strangely out of whack when compared to the sentences imposed on repeat and violent offenders convicted of crimes such as murder, armed robbery and rape.

A case involving a principal connected with the A&O Life Fund company is revealing, notes Forbes. That company was established in 2004 with a business plan geared toward buying life insurance policies at less than face value from policy holders. Often those holders had a short time left to live, and needed money quickly. A&O would in turn sell the policies to third-party investors, who would continue paying the premiums and collect on a policy after the insured died.

A co-founder of A&O, Christian Allmendinger, sought out of the company after several years, and was bought out in a sale. The company continued to flourish following his departure, with the two remaining major partners bringing in millions of dollars from investors lured by promises of outsized returns.

Eventually, a large "distribution" to those partners piqued federal investigators' interest, with it being subsequently discovered that more than 800 investors lost in excess of $100 million.

Despite having left the company, Allmendinger was indicted with the other partners. He refused a plea deal that would have resulted in a 10-year prison term, seeking, instead, full exoneration at trial.

That didn't happen. Although the other original founder of A&O received a 10-year term for cooperating with investigators, Allmendinger's fail to plead resulted in his receiving a 45-year federal prison term, a sentence far in excess of any other trial defendant.

Allmendinger's sentence was affirmed on appeal earlier this year.

"I know he needed to be punished," his mother said recently, "but I just don't think he should pay for it with his life."

Source: Forbes, "Doing life for a white-collar crime - the tale of Christian Allmendinger," Walter Pavlo, March 19, 2013

  • White collar crime accusations often involve business activities that are complex and that an accused person did not know in good faith were fraudulent. Our firm provides knowledgeable and proven representation to clients charged with fraud-related offenses. For relevant information, please visit our St. Louis, Missouri, Fraud Defense page.

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