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Mark Kaiser's Case
Jul 09, 2010
Unavoidably, as I begin monitoring business rights, I am coming late to many cases. This is one.
Six years ago, in July 2004, Mark Kaiser (a marketing executive at U.S. Foodservice) found himself indicted on the usual fraud and conspiracy charges, in a case that involved inflating company earnings. He pled not guilty, went to trial, and was convicted in November 2006. The government prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Kaiser to 30 years in prison.
Now, contemplate for a moment the sadism of that. Because we are now squeamish about using capital punishment, we do indeed hand down life and near-life sentences for the most horrible and vicious of crimes. But for inflating the earnings of a food company?
In the event, the judge sentenced Kaiser to 7 years in prison.
Recently, after six years of torture, Kaiser’s conviction has been overturned. The reason is that the judge’s instructions to the jury were so utterly and egregiously faulty that, even though the defense lawyers did not object to them, the conviction had to be thrown out.
According to an interpretation of the ruling by Solomon L. Wisenberg, to which I defer entirely: “Although both the government and the defense submitted the standard Second Circuit charge requiring the government to prove Kaiser’s knowledge that his conduct was illegal, Judge Griesa ‘did not give the proposed instructions, and did not rule on the proposed instructions before giving the charge, calling the practice “a waste of time.” In other words, Judge Griesa appeared to disregard the clear mandate of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 30(b).”
I do not know what, if anything, Mark Kaiser might have done wrong, obviously. But my inclination is to say: If he is guilty of some economic shenanigans, he has probably suffered enough. If he is innocent, he deserves to be compensated.