Frank A. Rubino, ESQ.

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Appeals court affirms Florida man's jail term for bribery, tax crime

A doctor who is serving a prison sentence some would call lengthy given his crime recently had his attempt to reduce his sentence denied. Alan Mendelsohn has been in prison for four years because he was convicted of tax fraud. Although no one is saying that what he did is okay, some have questioned whether the judge in Mendelsohn's case overstepped his bounds.

Mendelsohn went to prison after he gave $82,000 to a legislative aide, who in turn gave it to a Florida state senator. The state senator reciprocated by granting Mendelsohn political favors. The state senator has now pleaded guilty to not paying taxes on these bribes and for failing to report them as income. Evidently, Mendelsohn did not pay taxes on that money, either.

When Mendelsohn was convicted, the recommended prison term according to the Justice Department's sentencing guidelines was no more than 2.5 years. However, the judge found that insufficient and upped the sentencing to four years behind bars.

On appeal, Mendelsohn claimed the judge was being unreasonable, but the appeals court disagreed.

Many people do not like the idea of "activist judges" who get too creative in exercising their powers. This may be an example of an "activist judge" at work. Do you think judges should have the power to ignore sentencing guidelines and impose the sentence they see fit, or should they play by the book? Keep in mind that what Mendelsohn did was not right, but it is not as if he hurt or killed anyone.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Mendelsohn loses appeal to reduce sentence on tax fraud," Jay Weaver, April 27, 2012

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