Pre-trial, the prosecutors offered George a six-year prison sentence if he would plead guilty. Convinced that Waltzer was lying, George refused.
Following his trial which was riddled with prosecutorial misconduct , George was sentenced in November 2010. Based on the losses he was accused of causing, he faced approximately 9.5 years of incarceration.
Dozens of people wrote letters of support attesting to George’s good character, charitable givings, and to him being an upstanding member of the community, caring and supporting his father and family. Testimonials recounted how George would attend church on a weekly basis, pushing his father in his wheelchair before the entire congregation so he could take Holy Communion. The declarations strikingly contradicted the prosecutors’ allegations.
Shockingly, the Probation Department and prosecutors worked together to apply numerous “enhancements”, proposing that rather than George being given 9.5 years, he should face life in prison. It is worth reimpressing that this is a first offence, non-violent, no historical criminal record, white collar case. The very notion of life in prison shocks the conscience.
In the end, the prosecutors officially recommended a 30-year sentence to the Court, a 500% increase over what they had offered just a few months earlier to punish George for going to trial. Such “trial penalty” has faced severe criticism throughout the American legal system and denounced as unconstitutional. Nevertheless, it continues as a practice.
In the end, the District Court ignored every single defense objection and argument, sentencing George to 25 years.
By comparison, that is the same sentence given to Viktor Bout, the “Merchant of Death.”
Other white collar cases never see the kind of sentence George received. For example, Mark Johnson was recently convicted of nine counts, having caused a $3.5 billion loss, but received two years.