Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Should Decker get a lighter sentence?

Observer capitol reporter David Ingram’s story this morning about federal prosecutors seeking a shorter sentence for Michael Decker is intriguing. Decker is the former Forsyth County Republican legislator who took a bribe from former Democratic Speaker Jim Black to switch political parties and help keep Black in power in 2003. Black says Decker also proposed a deal six years earlier, but Black said he didn’t pursue it.
Federal prosectors are asking for a break for Decker because his cooperation in the case was instrumental in the guilty plea and sentencing of Black to federal prison in Pennsylvania for 63 months.
Without Decker’s cooperation, federal and state prosecutors were having a hard time coming up with good evidence of his having paid Decker for his role in North Carolina’s worst political scandal. Ingram’s story reported, “ ‘Decker’s assistance has not only been substantial, it has been extraordinary and important in the prosecution of public corruption in North Carolina in 2006 and 2007,’ wrote Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Bruce and Dennis Duffy, in court papers filed Monday.”
To read Ingram’s story, click here.
Decker told the federal court when he pleaded guilty a year ago that he had been overcome by guilt and was sleeping badly when he decided to tell a federal grand jury everything he knew. Prosecutors later recommended a sentence of 24 to 30 months, but U.S. District Judge James Dever sentenced Decker to four years in prison. Prosecutors now are asking Dever to cut that in half to two years. Decker will start serving his sentence soon at the federal clink in Bennettsville, S.C.
Don Carrington, executive editor of the John Locke Foundation’s Carolina Journal, has an interesting interview with Decker today in which Decker expresses remorse for his actions. Here’s a link.
Now the question before Judge Dever is whether to reduce Decker’s sentence because of his cooperation. I've never been a fan of Mike Decker or his pre-scandal approach to politics, but I think the staff of U.S. Attorney George Holding has a point that Decker should get more consideration for his coming clean on this mess -- and a shorter sentence.
Dever regards the whole matter as an “epic betrayal” of the public trust, and he is right on that. But does his stiff sentence of Decker – longer than prosecutors wanted -- send a message that cooperating with prosecutors will only backfire? And should Decker’s cooperation in this case be rewarded with a lighter sentence? What do you think?

13 comments:

Fern said...

Let Decker walk if it will get Black to talk.

The feds might not have gotten Black without Decker. I'd cheerfully commute Decker's term to encourage Black to expose more of the corruption in return for similar treatment. Is the goal simply "Told you so" or is the goal cleaning up the corruption?

The remaining crooks are afraid of what Black knows. I'm afraid Black won't tell what he knows. The feds want to give Black a reason to talk by rewarding Decker, and I'm all for it.

Decker repents. The people who gave Jim Black and his gang the ability to buy Decker have not repented and Black's gang is still in power. Black's partners in crime would cheerfully keep Decker in prison forever if they could, but the public would be better served by sending them to prison.

The biggest crooks are still in Raleigh, and they're still using the government to steal from the public for their personal benefit.

Anonymous said...

I understand about cooperating with the prosecution...but this clown sold out his party and his integrity...a gross breach of trust that ought to land him in prison. Black deserved more than Judge Boyle gave him.

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