Monday, September 19, 2011

Steal $100, go to jail for 15 yrs. Steal $3 billion, go to jail for 40 mos.

Pretty Boy Floyd. 
As Woody Guthrie famously wrote in his ballad, "Pretty Boy Floyd," Some will rob you with a six-gun, some with a fountain pen.

The penalties for robbing with a six-gun are a lot worse than robbing with a fountain pen, or, what's more likely today, a computer.

A story that has gotten a lot of play over the weekend on twitter and news sites is a prime example of the class war being waged in America. A homeless man who stole $100 from a bank (and later turned himself in) received a 15-year jail sentence. A day later, a white-collar investment tycoon, found guilty of a $3 billion fraud scheme, was sentenced to only 40 months in prison.

Fact Over Fiction puts it succinctly:
The story of 54-year-old Roy Brown, a homeless man who couldn’t afford to pay basic food and shelter expenses, is heartbreakingly cruel.
A homeless man robbed a Louisiana bank and took a $100 bill. After feeling remorseful, he surrendered to police the next day. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison. 
The day after this story appeared, prosecutors celebrated the fact that they were able to get a 40-month prison sentence for investment tycoon Paul R. Allen, who defrauded lenders of more than $3 billion...
Roy Brown is black and homeless, while Paul R. Allen is white and extremely wealthy.
According to the Associated Press, Allen was CEO at Taylor Bean & Whitaker, a mortgage lender, when the company double- and triple-sold mortgages to other investors.
Prosecutors had sought a six-year sentence.