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When last we checked in on former Deutsche Bank trader and convicted precious-metals spoofer James Vorley, he was thisclose to getting away with it without spending another day in prison. The U.S. Probation Office told the judge not to bother, and John J. Tharp Jr. seriously considered it, having adjudged Vorley to pose no risk whatever of doing it again, and was only doing what he was told and taught by others.

This sent the prosecutors who won Vorley’s conviction into an apoplectic rage. Luckily, they’d learned a thing or two about gaming the system they pay in, too. First, spoof the calculation of the crime’s costs by a few orders of magnitude to get into the right sentencing guideline band. Second, spoof the sentencing by asking for a term far harsher than you’d possibly get, in this case, up to 71 months, nearly twice as long as the only other person ever sent to jail for spoofing got, for far “more extreme”—and personally enriching—“conduct” than Vorley’s, by Tharp’s lights. This way, sending a person almost all involved doesn’t need to go to prison to prison for less than almost five years allows Tharp to appear just and merciful, while also sending a person who probably doesn’t need to go to prison to prison for a frankly not-particularly-insubstantial length of time.

A former Deutsche Bank AG futures trader convicted of manipulating gold and silver prices was sentenced Monday to one year and one day in prison.... “A sentence with no prison term would, in the court’s view, substantially undermine the message that if you attempt to manipulate the market, the price you will pay includes prison,” Judge Tharp said…. Mr. Vorley’s trading caused losses to his counterparties of about $1.1 million, Judge Tharp said.

Not quite the $1.4 million prosecutors were hoping for, but still more than enough to get into “he must go to jail” guideline territory. Which is all quite unfortunate for Mr. Vorley, but hey: It could have been worse. You know, if he had committed a worse crime. One that involved—get your pearls firmly in clutch—drugs, albeit no losses.

A federal judge sentenced a California businessman to 2½ years in federal prison Friday for orchestrating an international scheme that tricked U.S. banks into processing more than $150 million in marijuana-related purchases…. The case grew out of efforts by Eaze Technologies Inc., a California-based marijuana marketplace, to expand its business by accepting credit-card payments. While the marijuana purchases in question were legal under state law in Oregon and California, most banks avoid doing business with the industry, citing policy against activities that are illegal under federal law…. Their lawyers had argued that the banks didn’t lose money.

Traders Shouldn’t Get Prison Time in Spoofing Case, Probation Office Says [WSJ]
Businessman Sentenced to 2½ Years in $150 Million Bank Fraud [WSJ]

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By Chris Potter (Flickr: 3D Judges Gavel) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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By Federal Bureau of Prisons ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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