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STEPHEN COHEN: An appropriate sentence

Contrition on the part of the defendant should always be considered; instead, he is claiming that the justice system is illegally and corruptly picking on him and that he committed no crime.

The evidence was overwhelming and the jury deliberated for a comparatively very short time in order to convict. The defendant is raising money hand over fist claiming he is a political prisoner, that the trial was a scam, and that the judge and judicial system is corrupt. Some of his followers (I hope they are his lunatic fringe) are calling for the jurors, Democrats, and non-believers to be killed. He was deemed in contempt of court orders to limit his verbal tirades during the trial and was fined on 12 occasions. He has claimed that the judicial systems (both state and federal) are corrupt, alleging that the president concocted the charges and that he did nothing wrong. (Even though the case against him was tried in a state court).

He was found guilty of false entries in order to conceal his trysts and payments to certain women so that the stories would be concealed from the public as he was running for president. He used these 34 crimes to secure the highest office in the land, and perhaps his intended actions contributed to his election victory. There is virtually no other case in U.S. history where the results of such a crime abetted a result with such a profound effect on the nation for four years. Now you have to sentence him for his crimes. Tough decision.

He has been convicted of a Class E felony and is subject to anything from probation or conditional release or home confinement for up to four years. (He could also receive a split sentence, where he does some jail time and is then released on probation.) If sentenced to jail, he would normally serve one-third of that time before he would be eligible for parole, which he would probably receive since he is a first offender (assuming he is a model prisoner).

What do you do? Do you take into consideration that about 10 percent of these types of cases result in incarceration, but that his rabid supporters are being goaded into virtual armed rebellion by his disparagement of the law and its application to him? How do you weigh his unmitigated lies about the conduct of the trial and the claims that this was directed by the current president?

Contrition on the part of the defendant should always be considered; instead, he is claiming that the justice system is illegally and corruptly picking on him and that he committed no crime. This disparagement was displayed throughout the trial and continues even more strongly now that he is no longer subject to the gag order that was imposed.

As I thought about possible sentencing, I was at first drawn to the idea of giving him a nice orange jump suit and have him pick up garbage along the Major Deegan expressway in the Bronx. He could do this on the weekends or on holidays or nights, with his secret service detail tagging along for security. After all, he is entitled to such protection as an ex-president, and if he wins a second term, it will perhaps give him some exercise rather than his constant trips to his resorts to play golf.

It is estimated that he played 261 rounds in his four years as president. Based on about five hours a round, that is 1,305 hours, not even counting travel time to the course. That is 163 eight-hour work days, or 23 weeks. It would be a reasonable sentence time-wise, and would not impinge on his duties based upon his prior schedule. These work details could be scheduled over a period of time, as supervised by the probation department based on normal work-release schedules which could be set by the court. (The judge should be careful not to let any personal animus cloud the duration of the work details, especially the fact the defendant called him and a family member corrupt and disobeyed numerous court gag orders and was held in contempt.)

This type of sentence would treat the defendant as other similarly situated defendants and could not be considered demeaning or unduly harsh. It would allow the defendant to do his job if he is reelected, without any diminishment of his prior four-year work schedule. As I think more about it, it not only seems appropriate but quite reasonable. We will see.


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