Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Judge Zloch sentences Alan Mendelsohn to 4 years (UPDATED)

The prosecutors had asked for 2 years and Mendelsohn's lawyers asked for probation.

From the Herald:

“Most notably, the corruption in this case strikes at the heart of the Florida Legislature,’’ Zloch said. “Dr. Mendelsohn actually facilitated a corrupt democratic process in the Florida Legislature.’’
Zloch expressed disgust over the “pay to play" world of Tallahassee politics that Mendelsohn described at his plea hearing in December.

Mendelsohn, initially indicted in September 2009 on 32 fraud charges and later on five tax offenses, had been facing trial in January.

His plea was the ending to a high-profile influence-peddling investigation that stretched from South Florida to Tallahassee. It started when the self-made power broker bragged about his purported connections to then-Gov. Charlie Crist and his inner circle, saying he could get them to kill legislation and investigations that would hurt a Fort Lauderdale viatical insurance business called Mutual Benefits Corp.

UPDATE -- I've mentioned previously that I don't think judges should be permitted to sentence someone above the plea agreement's terms (see, e.g., here, here and here). If the parties in an adversary system agreed that the defendant in this case deserved somewhere between probation and 2 years, a judge should respect that contract or allow the parties to withdraw from it.

It doesn't appear that DOJ really fought for the terms of the agreement. From Curt Anderson's article:

"He isn't accepting responsibility when he says, 'Everybody was doing it,'" Butler said. "That's just not going to cut it."

More from Zloch:

"It is totally inappropriate for the court to give what would amount to a slap on the wrist," Zloch said. "The corruption of public officials, those who took an oath to uphold the law, leads to contempt for the law."

Mendelsohn himself apologized profusely, but also said he was proud of health-related state legislation he said he pushed for and noted that since his 2009 indictment "words just can't describe the devastation" suffered by his family and business.

"Who was responsible for this devastation?" Zloch asked.

"I was," Mendelsohn replied. "I am really, really, really, truly sorry."


Anonymous said...

No surprise. Writing was on the wall.

Anonymous said...

One way ratchet. Has Zloch ever sentenced lower than the the term recommended by the govt and defense?

Anonymous said...

What was Alan Mendelsohn's position? Was he a legislator?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Judge Cooke will follow this path one day!

Anonymous said...

Both Cooke and Zloch have sentenced higher and lower. Article III judges are already handcuffed enough by man mins and usssg. This is the type of decision you want made by an Article III judge. Unless its a plea that actually contains a specific sentence under Rule 11, the Article III judge should decide the specific sentence. Recommendations should be taken into consideration, but they should remain just that - recommendations.