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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guilty Plea: Blame My Illness, Don't Blame Me, It Really Wasn't Me!

Today former beauty queen turned insider-trader Danielle Chiesi was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for her role in a huge insider trading scandal.

The judge cited Chiesi's "borderline personality disorder" as a factor in Chiesi's supposedly aberrant behavior -- that is, her crime. The same long-running crime she engaged in while supposedly controlled by her boyfriend Mark Kurland in a 20-year-long relationship.

One would think that crime, particularly white-collar crime like frauds running a long time, is often an aberrant behavior in itself.

This is another example of someone who admits to a crime but tries to duck ultimate responsibility by citing some other mitigating factor. Sometimes those factors are relevant and legitimate. Other times an admitted felon is trying to game the system, citing false injuries or traumas or pretending to be an alcoholic in order to get "extra credit" for rehab.

With Chiesi, she seemed to say, don't blame me, blame my illness, that's why I did this crime.

In other words, Chiesi isn't guilty. Its her illness which is guilty. It's really not her. Therefore, she really didn't do anything wrong in this rationalized and delusional view.

Fortunately, district judge Richard Holwell had none of it.

This isn't unique. In one egregious case, a felon tried to get probation instead of prison by citing a back injury and need for ongoing medical treatment. Problem was, this felon was going snowboarding AFTER sustaining the injury in question.

Chiesi's plea for leniency today was unsuccessful. Federal district judge Richard Holwell saw the plea for the ploy that it was, another attempt by someone used to special treatment to get more special treatment. This is a victory, not just for society at large, but for the legitimate hardship cases.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer, strategic analyst and political consultant.

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