Federal DefenseOn March 25th, 2016, a magistrate judge in the Southern District of New York signed a “sealed complaint” that charged Andrew Caspersen with charges related to fraud. Prosecutors alleged that he operated a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors— including family and friends—of more than $38 million dollars. He pleaded guilty. Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff to sentence Mr. Caspersen to 188 months in federal prison.

On Friday, November 4, 2016, Judge Rakoff rejected the prosecutor’s request. Instead, he sentenced Mr. Caspersen to four years in prison.

Defendants that want to position themselves for the lowest possible sentence, and to serve that sentence in the best possible environment, may learn a lesson from this case study.

Rather than employing a scorched-earth defense strategy that could have included a costly and risky trial, Mr. Caspersen’s team pursued a more strategic approach. They understood the reality. When federal prosecutors bring an indictment, they have a 90 percent chance of convicting. Defendants that exercise their right to a trial expose themselves to significant sanctions that may include much longer prison terms.

In Mr. Caspersen’s case, the defense team began with a different objective. Rather than contesting the charges, they considered options that could lead to a lower sentence. To that end, they crafted a comprehensive mitigation plan that would help all stakeholders understand the motivations that prompted Mr. Caspersen’s behavior. By explaining Mr. Caspersen’s background, they were able to mitigate his criminal behavior and build a solid case to show why 16 years in prison would not serve the interests of justice. To fortify the argument, they presented evidence from specialists. Sentence-mitigation consultants, addiction consultants, and prison consultants collaborate with the legal team to build the persuasive argument.

By defining success as the lowest possible sentence in the best possible environment, the legal team provided Mr. Caspersen with a complete victory. No one is going to doubt that four years in prison is better than 16 years in prison. Defendants in Orange County that want those types of results may contact. I’m Diane Bass with the Diane Bass Law Firm.

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