Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, head of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, at the American Lawyer/National Law Journal Summit said, "One area - though by no means the only one - in which we have seen significant disparities in sentencing in the last several years is financial fraud. With increasing frequency, federal judges have been sentencing fraud offenders - especially offenders involved in high-loss fraud cases - inconsistently."
Joe Palazzolo of the Wall Street Journal highlighted the sentencing disparity by citing U.S. Sentencing Commission data to show the following:
...between October 2010 and June 2011, judges in the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) sentenced defendants to prison terms within guidelines ranges 45.7% of the time.
Judges in the Southern District of New York, by comparison, sentenced defendants to prison terms within guidelines ranges 36.2% of the time. And judges in the Southern District of Texas (Houston), meanwhile, sentenced within the guidelines ranges 66.7% of the time.
Federal district courts nationwide sentenced fraud defendants within the guidelines 52.6% of the time, for an average of 23.2 months in prison.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission Preliminary Quarterly Data Report for the 3rd quarter of the 2011 fiscal year is available here.