The L.A. Times reports on an investment swindler who preyed on retirees and was sentenced to life.
The convicted mastermind of an investment scam that bilked retirees out of nearly $190 million was sentenced Friday to spend the rest of his life in state prison.
Daniel Heath, 51, of Chula Vista was sentenced in Riverside County Superior Court to a term of 127 years and four months. According to Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Quesnel, who prosecuted the case, Heath would have to spend half that time in prison before being eligible for parole.
What Mr. Heath did was sell people on supposedly secure investment products for their savings. He probably used their fears and uncertainties about the economic climate of recent years as a weapon against them. It sounds like a lot of misdirected talent and hard work. Imagine what it took to build an entire organization with three offices dedicated to this.
It's hard not to agree with the sentencing judge about the fact that his actions caused a lot of pain.
Judge Ronald L. Taylor told Heath that the severity of the sentence was partly based on the misery that the scheme had caused.
"There is not a doubt it has ruined the lives of many, many people," Taylor said.
What I'm not in agreement with is the length of the sentence. If Judge Taylor gives a con-man, even a very prolific con-man, a sentence like this, what does he do with violent offenders? Is the fact that Heath took the life savings of multiple victims enough reason to put him in jail for the rest of his life?
I say white collar criminals should not be taking up space in prisons. Isn't the overcrowding sometimes the very reason violent repeat offenders are paroled or sentenced lightly? I say guys like Heath should be made to pay, but not with a prison sentence. Hefty fines, full restitution, community service, these are the sanctions appropriate to the crime of fraud.
What's your opinion?