Appeals Court Shows White-Collar Criminals No Mercy

Thomas Coughlin feared a stiff penalty for defrauding Wal-Mart, but he didn't expect a death sentence.

The former vice chairman of the world's largest company pleaded guilty in 2006 to looting his ex-employer of $306,842 in cash, gift cards and merchandise, as well as defrauding the IRS of $104,395.

Their conclusion prompted an incredulous dissent from Judge Kermit Bye, who rejected the prosecution's argument that Coughlin's case could "open the floodgates" for all criminals to argue prison is too stressful.

"In light of the overwhelming medical evidence in this case, a more prescient concern is who will be granted a departure for an extraordinary physical impairment if not Coughlin?" Bye said.

Cristin Schmitz

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