Topeka 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.