Giving the primary defendant in a major case a reduced sentence for providing what the US Sentencing Guidelines refer to as "Substantial Assistance," does not serve the ends of justice when he has inflicted serious economic damage upon individuals or entities not charged with criminal conduct. Often, when sentencing is delayed for a period of years, to allow the defendant to assist law enforcement, there is no media coverage of the lenient sentence.
The case against Rama Vyasulu, the manager of Rosemont Financial, in US District Court* in Boston, also involved the seizure, in Miami, of over $151m in deposits of 48 broker-dealers and non-bank financial institutions located in Venezuela after Vyasulu became involved in a money laundering sting brought by the DEA. Although there was no connection between the Defendant's criminal actions and his client's accounts, they were all frozen by a Federal Judge.
The broker-dealers were forced to negotiate the return of their client's money, a process that took many months, and they did not recover all their funds, because the US Attorney exacted hefty penalties for their lack of Federal, or state, money transmitters licenses. The economic costs, and resulting business losses, cannot be measured, but they were extremely high. Had Mr. Vyasulu not assured them that they needed no licenses, many of them probably would have been in full compliance with the registration requirements.
Two years later, the defendant comes up for sentencing; His sentence:
(1) one year and one day in Federal Prison ! If you were wondering why the additional day, it is a courtesy extended to him, allowing him to receive 2 months' gain time, for good behaviour, which will reduce his already short sentence to a mere ten months. As a prominent Miami criminal defence attorney is fond of saying, "You can do that standing on your head." He's not joking, and remember that money laundering has a maximum sentence of 20 years.
(2) The Court has recommended that he serve his sentence "in the Southern District of Florida," which is close to his family. Most defendants initially are sent far, far away from their home states. Preferential treatment as a reward for his cooperation ?
(3) A period of two years Supervised Release, the modern form of post-incarceration parole. Why he did not receive the customary three years is not known. A good attorney can seek early termination of the Supervised Release after several months, and he will certainly get no opposition from the US Attorney's Office, I am sure.
(4) No fine or restitution is ordered and adjudged; only a $300 court cost payment. The Judgment and Notice of Commitment stated fine waived. Whilst Rosemont Financial accounts seized were forfeited to the United States, no fine was imposed.
I doubt that the affected business owners, and their clients, even know that the individual responsible for their plight has received little more than a slap on the wrist. Was justice served ? I will let you be the judge. Vyasulu ruined a number of peoples' lives and businesses.
Reports received from Venezuela indicate that Mr. Vyasulu was not the owner of Rosemont, only the managing director. The true owners are several Caracas businessmen Why, I wonder, were the true owners of the company neither charged nor identified ?
One year for a money laundering case that resulted in the largest seizure of funds in the history of the criminal justice system; there's something very wrong with this picture.
*United States vs. Vyasulu, Case No.: 09-cr-10081-JLT (D MASS).