White collar crimes must entail harsher punishment

editorial staff

From the Minnesota-based businessman Tom Petters to the already infamous Bernard Madoff, these swindlers of billions, violators of trust, and destroyers of livelihoods deserve punishment for setting basic societal values aside for their own economic interests. Prosecutors of such individuals must strive to sentence them to the longest possible prison terms their offenses merit; they must refrain from lightening their prison sentences even in the event of the defendant’s cooperation during investigation or agreement to readdress wrongs.

In addition, they must restrict granting these individuals accused of white collar crime any special privileges. Late last month, Petters requested to have his trial moved to another state due to negative media attention here in the Twin Cities.  The judge of this case must remember that where his trial takes place must be decided based on the location of his crimes, just like in any other case, and not based upon his own personal preferences.

Although the average white collar crime only involves a business person laundering or embezzling a few thousand to several billion dollars, the greed of the CEO of Peanut Corporation of America put a new twist on this type of crime since it resulted in the loss of several lives and the illness of hundreds of individuals.  At his congressional hearing on February 12, Stewart Parnell denied to reply to any of the questions the committee asked him; instead, he pleaded the Fifth Amendment since his answers would most likely have been self-incriminating.

E-mails and company documents reveal that Parnell gave the order to ship salmonella-infected products across the country.  He should be held responsible for ruining the good name of peanut butter, poisoning hundreds, and killing nine.  He deserves nothing less than life in prison without parole.

Although perpetrators of white collar crime need to spend time in jail for their wrongdoings, American citizens must avoid potential scams to avoid allowing them to occur. No one could have know the next peanut and jelly sandwich could lead to a possible death, but most fraudulent schemes could have been easily spotted.

They promise 20 percent returns on investments within the next month or some other unbelievably enticing guarantee. A short lesson on finances would reveal that these amazing offers often correlate with investment scandals. Americans must educate themselves to protect themselves from such schemes as well as our economy. Alongside investigators, lawyers, and judges, the common citizen must work to rid the US of white collar crime.