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Archive for Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Judge cuts Wittig’s sentence

February 6, 2007

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— A federal judge on Monday sentenced David Wittig to 24 months in prison for bank fraud, cutting the former Westar Energy Inc. chief executive's sentence by more than half.

But U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson still surpassed the six-month prison term recommended by an appellate court, saying it "failed to reflect the seriousness of the offense."

Robinson sentenced Wittig to 60 months in prison in April, but the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Denver overturned that sentence in November as being too harsh.

Robinson also sentenced Wittig on Monday to pay a $1 million fine and to three months supervised release. With time off for good behavior, Wittig, who has been in prison since January 2006, could be released as early as October.

Attorneys for Wittig said they will appeal the new sentence. They also asked Robinson to release Wittig from prison while on appeal.

The judge said she might rule on that later this week.

Wittig was convicted in July 2003 of loaning $1.5 million to former Topeka bank president Clinton Odell Weidner II, then helping him hide the transaction from bank and federal officials.

The appeals court upheld the convictions but threw out previous prison sentences of 51 and 60 months for Wittig, saying calculations in determining the sentences were flawed and far longer than sentencing guidelines allow.

The three-judge panel in November said the maximum penalty Wittig could receive under federal sentencing guidelines is six months in prison.

The guidelines are not mandatory, but judges are required to justify departing from them.

In her decision, Robinson said sentencing Wittig to just six months would treat his crime like a "misdemeanor" and encourage future criminals to structure their fraudulent transactions like his to avoid serious penalties.

Robinson revoked Wittig's bond pending appeal and sent him to prison in January 2006 after determining he had violated terms of his release.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 10 months ago

I doubt that Wittig will have the decency to return the millions he stole for Westar ratepayers.

terrapin2 7 years, 10 months ago

This certainly is a step in the right direction, but once again Judge Robinson has allowed her flawed judgement to be further clouded by her former life as a federal prosecutor. I sure hope she has the sense and decency to release Wittig pending the appeal. After her behavior today it seems clear that she needs to be removed from this case.

terrapin2 7 years, 10 months ago

You people keep talking about all the millions of dollars that he stole. Sorry to inform you, but he did not steel anything from Westar. The "looting" that the case refers to was in the form of stock options which were never cashed in by Mr. Wittig and an appeals court overturned all the convictions anyway. The money is still in Westar's hands and has never left, so I'm not sure what money he is supposed to return. Whether you like what he was doing at Westar or not he was payed a salary for the work he did. Even the 2nd jury that convicted him agreed that he should keep his base salary. If you are fired from a job because of poor performance does your boss get to take back all your wages? I don't think so. As far as being in a real jail or not I'm not sure where you thing he has been, but it is certainly a real jail. I'm not sure how you call dealing with this for over 5 years, having your name dragged through the mud, unlawfully being in prison away from your family and friends, being unemployable, unable to ever vote again etc... getting off the hook. Yes he has a lot of money, but he had that money before ever coming to Topeka and working for Westar. I am no legal expert, but I do know a lot about this case. When there is no money to return, then no, a civil suit is not possible.

Paul Geisler 7 years, 10 months ago

I'm not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV, but I suspect it would be difficult at best to bring any civil case against either Wittig or Lake 'for having earned a salary while employed by Westar'. You all may call it stealing, but a more appropriate term would be executive compensation.

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