Wednesday, March 09, 2011

U.S. v. Eriksen (9th Cir. - March 9, 2011)

Judge Smith begins his opinion by saying:  "Defendants-Appellants Sigmund Eriksen and Raymond Eriksen appeal their convictions stemming from their misappropriation of employee 401(k) contributions to pay their company’s operating expenses."

Which made me think:  "Hmmm.  I wonder what their sentences will be?  Personally, I think that stealing from your employees' retirement plans is pretty darn serious.  A lot more serious than other crimes; e.g., stealing a slice of pizza.  I bet the ERISA criminal penalty provisions are pretty harsh.  Rightly so."

So I was perhaps surprised to learn, halfway through the opinion, that they were only sentenced to two years of probation, a $20,000 fine, and 240 hours of community service.

I was perhaps even more surprised that, by the time I reached that part of the opinion, I didn't necessarily think that sentence was overly light.  Certainly wasn't too harsh.  But maybe not all that evil.

Check out the facts and see if you agree.