White collar crime does indeed pay

Being on vacation I’m finally getting a chance to catch up on some older articles I’ve been sent that I just didn’t have an opportunity to get to at the time. One of them has angered me enough to vent some rage.

Paul R. Allen is the former CEO of Taylor Bean & Whitaker, one of the largest privately held mortgage lenders in the country. He, along with others from the company, were charged in a $3 billion dollar fraud in selling paper loans to other banks that did not have the proper collateral. Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas were the primary corporate victims here, losing upwards of $2 billion. Now I don’t have a whole lot of love for banks and it hardly raises an eyebrow when one steals from another, but the real tragedy here was the 2,000 employees from Taylor Bean & Whitaker losing their jobs.

Allen’s prison sentence for stealing $3 billion and screwing up the lives of his 2,000 employees and their families is 40 months in prison. Maybe even worse, the prosecutors in Florida were only looking for 6 years.

I was angered enough by that story, but as I continued reading the second part made me even more pissed off.

In 2007 Roy Brown, a homeless man from Louisiana, held up a Capital One bank. He entered the bank with his hand in his coat pocket and told the teller it was a robbery. The teller put several stacks of money on the counter but Brown took just a single $100 bill and left. He later turned himself into police telling them his mother didn’t raise him to be that way and what he did was wrong. Brown told the police he stole the money so he could stay at the detox clinic he was at because he was hungry and had no where else to go.

Brown pleaded guilty at his hearing, and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

How is this fair? Now I don’t excuse Brown’s actions, but was his crime worse than Allen’s? Brown stole chump change out of necessity, Allen stole billions out of greed. And yet Brown gets 4.5 times the sentence. Obviously there’s one lesson to be learned here…

…if you’re going to steal, take as much as humanly possible and wear a white shirt and tie.

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