No guar­an­teed pri­son time for Wilm­ing­ton Trust de­fen­dants

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Ran­dall Chase

DOVER, DEL. >> There’s no guar­an­tee that four for­mer ex­ec­u­tives of the only fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion to be crim­i­nally charged in con­nec­tion with the fed­eral bank bailout pro­gram will be sen­tenced to pri­son for fraud.

But even if a judge orders pri­son time for the for­mer Wilm­ing­ton Trust of­fi­cials at their sen­tenc­ings later this month, they won’t be led away in hand­cuffs.

In a court fil­ing Thurs­day, pros­e­cu­tors said they will not op­pose the de­fen­dants’ re­quests to be al­lowed at least two months, pos­si­bly more, to “self-sur­ren­der” to pri­son, a priv­i­lege not granted to most crim­i­nal de­fen­dants.

For­mer Wilm­ing­ton Trust pres­i­dent Robert Harra Jr. and for­mer chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer David Gib­son are to be sen­tenced on Dec. 17. For­mer chief credit of­fi­cer William North and for­mer con­troller Kevyn Rakowski will be sen­tenced two days later.

A fed­eral jury con­victed the four for­mer ex­ec­u­tives on all charges in May af­ter a six-week trial. Pros­e­cu­tors al­leged that in the wake of the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis, the de­fen­dants mis­led reg­u­la­tors and in­vestors about Wilm­ing­ton Trust’s mas­sive amount of past-due com­mer­cial real es­tate loans be­fore the bank was hastily sold in 2011 as it teetered on the edge of col­lapse. The cen­tury-old bank im­ploded de­spite re­ceiv­ing $330 mil­lion from the fed­eral Trou­bled As­set Re­lief Pro­gram.

Ac­cord­ing to Thurs­day’s court fil­ing, if U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Richard An­drews orders pri­son time for any of the for­mer bank of­fi­cials, they would be al­lowed to re­port to the Bureau of Prisons on or af­ter Feb. 19.

“I would not char­ac­ter­ize the amount of time as le­nient,” Kim Reeves, a spokes­woman for the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice, said of the time the de­fen­dants would be granted be­fore be­ing locked up.

Pros­e­cu­tors and de­fense at­tor­neys have in­di­cated in court fil­ings that Harra and Gib­son face 108 to 135 months in pri­son un­der fed­eral sen­tenc­ing guide­lines, while North and Rakowski face 87 to 108 months be­hind bars. But that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean they will re­ceive pri­son time. De­fense at­tor­neys are seek­ing pro­ba­tion for their clients. They also are ask­ing that they be al­lowed to re­main free pend­ing res­o­lu­tion of their ap­peals, a process that could take a year or more.

At­tor­neys on Thurs­day asked the judge to be al­lowed to file briefs on whether the de­fen­dants should be re­leased pend­ing ap­peal, with a pos­si­ble hear­ing date of Jan. 21 for oral ar­gu­ments.

“We have op­posed and will con­tinue to op­pose bail pend­ing ap­peal,” U.S. At­tor­ney David Weiss said in a pre­pared state­ment. Weiss also noted that, when there is no risk of flight or dan­ger to the com­mu­nity, de­fen­dants are rou­tinely per­mit­ted to self-re­port to pri­son.

Mean­while, at­tor­neys for Rakowski, 65, filed a 60-page sen­tenc­ing mem­o­ran­dum on Thurs­day ask­ing that she re­ceive pro­ba­tion in­stead of pri­son time. They de­scribed her as a “rel­a­tively pas­sive par­tic­i­pant” in the ac­tiv­i­ties that led to her con­vic­tion and said she had lived “an hon­or­able and law abid­ing life” prior to that time.

Rakowski’s at­tor­neys also cited var­i­ous health is­sues she faces, and the re­cent death of her hus­band, who died in Septem­ber af­ter fall­ing at home and suf­fer­ing a head in­jury — two weeks af­ter he wrote a let­ter to the court seek­ing le­niency for his wife. Rakowski’s two adult daugh­ters also are among the friends and fam­ily mem­bers who wrote let­ters on her be­half, although the daugh­ters’ let­ters are to­tally redacted in the pre­vi­ously sealed court fil­ing.

Pur­suant to an or­der is­sued last week, at­tor­neys for the other de­fen­dants have un­til Fri­day to sub­mit redacted ver­sions of their sen­tenc­ing ma­te­ri­als. Pros­e­cu­tors ob­jected af­ter the ma­te­ri­als were filed un­der seal, say­ing there is a pre­sump­tion of pub­lic ac­cess to such doc­u­ments.

“The ex­hibits in sup­port of de­fen­dants’ sen­tenc­ing mem­o­randa largely con­sist of let­ters to the court au­thored by third par­ties on be­half of de­fen­dants,” pros­e­cu­tors wrote in a court fil­ing. “De­fen­dant Harra, for ex­am­ple, at­tached over one hun­dred let­ters to his sen­tenc­ing mem­o­ran­dum, in­clud­ing let­ters sub­mit­ted by cur­rent pub­lic of­fi­cials, for­mer pub­lic of­fi­cials, and other prom­i­nent Delaware­ans.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.