Judge Says Time Doesn’t Fit The Crime

Apr 22, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Judge Sylvia Rambo thought former Rite Aid chief executive Martin Grass was getting off too easy with a plea bargain that would have seen him serve a maximum of eight years in prison for his role in an accounting fraud that rocked the drugstore chain so she rejected the deal agreement worked out with prosecutors.

Judge Rambo wrote in her decision, “Based on the court’s intimate knowledge of defendant’s role in the events underlying his guilty plea, the court finds that it would not serve the ends of justice to begin with a 96-month sentence.”

Mr. Grass has pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiracy in the accounting scandal that prosecutors claim saw Rite Aid overstate its net income by $1.6 billion and then destroy evidence to cover up the crime.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Rite Aid’s former chief has the option of withdrawing the plea and going to trial or working out another agreement with prosecutors. If Mr. Grass doesn’t withdraw his guilty plea on two counts of conspiracy, the judge would hand down a sentence tougher than that worked out in the agreement.

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on the Rite Aid accounting fraud? Was the judge correct in rejecting the
plea bargain agreement? Should federal laws be made tougher to deal with so-called white-collar crimes?

The judge is right. There’s something wrong with this math. Eight years for a $1.6 billion crime works out to $200 million for each year in jail. Of course,
the annual figure could also have gone higher if the judge accepted the agreement because the eight years were a maximum sentence.
Anderson – Moderator

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