Friday, June 24, 2005

John and Timothy Rigas

John Rigas, the former CEO of Adelphia Communications, was convicted of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the company and defrauding shareholders by hiding debt. His sentence was 15 years out of a possible 215 years to which he was legally entitled. His son, Timothy, was also convicted and he was sentenced to twenty years.

My friends at The Rabbi Report expressed my concerns succinctly:

"So let me get this straight...two rich, white guys who defrauded a publically-traded company out of hundreds of millions of dollars, thereby bankrupting it, received 15 and 20 years, while prisons are full of black and Latino men and women doing 20-to-life for low-level drug deals?"

Our drug laws throughout the nation, but especially in New York, are too severe, while the corporate laws in all fifty states are embarrassingly lax.

Corporate criminals live for a couple years in federal prisons that are slightly more pleasant than the summer camps we were sent to, and inner-city single mothers who need a few extra bucks to make ends meet are sentenced for the rest of their lives to high-security penitentiaries, their children are taken away from them, and if they get out alive they can never get a decent job because of a low-level drug conviction that is deemed a felony.

What kind of nation has this become?

I know the corporate fundamentalists, and their apologists the born-again Christians, will explain that drugs are destroying the soul of America; but corporate thieves are stealing the soul of America and branded heroes of free enterprise.

The Rigas family is an embarrassment to freedom, patriotism, and liberty. The judicial system that gives them such lenient sentences is YOUR justice system. It reflects who YOU are. Only YOU can change the laws. Start by calling your elected officials and telling them you want harsher penalties for corporate thieves, and softer sentences for low-level drug offenders.

I have called all my elected officials and told them I want the laws changed.

We are each responsible for this. Do you have a shred of decency? Do you have the balls or ovaries to call the government and express dissent? If you won't call and demand change, who will?

See The Rabbi Report article here.

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Lessons from Deregulation
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