June 23, 2009

Unintended Consequences of Al Capone's Conviction
The Feds couldn't prove Capone was guilty of his real crimes (who would testify against him?), so they nailed him on tax evasion. A reasonable recourse under the circumstances.

But now you get stuff like this:
Indicted billionaire headed to Texas
All seven are charged with wire fraud, mail fraud, and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Stanford also is charged with conspiring to obstruct a Securities and Exchange Commission proceeding.
Conspiring to obstruct a Securities and Exchange Commission proceeding. What does that even mean? What does obstructing an SEC proceeding mean, let alone conspiring to obstruct the proceeding?

My take is that the government is criminalizing things that are inconvenient to it. Just like this:
...Stewart was found guilty in March 2004 of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators and sentenced in July 2004 to serve a five month term in a federal correctional facility and a two year period of supervised release (to include five months of home confinement).
Notwithstanding how I despise Martha Stewart, notwithstanding the likelihood that Stanford defrauded his investors, something is very wrong here.

It's not just that the book gets thrown at people who run afoul of federal prosecutors. It's that the book has metastasized by orders of magnitude.

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