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February 7, 2014

Beanie Baby Justice – The Light and The Heavy of the Jail Sentence

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I am not a lawyer.  I am confused, John Q. Public. It seems to me that America has a double standard of justice. There is an adage stating that when you go to court you don’t know how you are coming out.  Does it depend on the lawyer?  Does it depend on the crime?  Does it depend on the judge?  Is race a factor?  Does politics come into play?   Is there a different standard for the wealthy guys? Go figure.

The Governor.

 Former Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years for corruption charges. He attempted to leverage his position to fill President Obama’s available Senate seat in exchange for purchase or a position. However, he never took any money. He talked about it.  He saw the golden goose seat as an opportunity for his own advancement as he considered his political appointment His political horse-trading discussions landed him in the slammer. Did the crime equate with the sentence? I don’t think so.  But the judge did.

The Congressman

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson is jailed for 2-1/2 years for misuse of his campaign funds of $750,000. He used his campaign dollars inappropriately for his personal use. The funds were donated to his campaign.  He is guilty of “misuse” but not “stealing.”

The Alderman/Commissioner

And then there’s the case of former Alderman William Beavers.  He was found guilty of using $226,000 of his campaign funds for paying his gambling debts and other personal expenses. He argues that he loaned himself the money. He paid it back and taxes were in question. He reports that he was asked to wear a wire on a Daley and he refused to do so.  He was sentenced to a six-month jail term.

Beanie Baby Wealth

And there is the case of Mr. Ty Warner, the creator of the popular toy, Beanie Babies. He is a billionaire. He avoided paying taxes by sheltering his wealth in a Swiss and other foreign bank accounts.  He is clearly guilty of tax invasion. His worth is in the neighborhood of $2.6 billion according to Forbes Magazine. He eventually pleaded guilty and agreed to pay the government a penalty of nearly $53.6 million.  He did not pay $885,000 in taxes.  He asked the court for leniency because of his tough upbringing. His sentenced was 2 year of probation and 500 hours of community service.  No jail time granted.

The Political Nephew

And finally there is the case of Richard Vanecko, nephew of former Mayor Richard Daley.  It took the case a full decade to get to court. The Chicago Sun Times kept the case alive with updated reports, and investigative questions on  the case being suppressed because of political connections. He was charged with manslaughter. He outweighed his victim, David Koschman, by 100 pounds. He delivered a fatal punch one night after drinking. Sounds like a bully attack that accidently resulted in murder. David fell to the ground hit his head on the sidewalk. He died. In court, Vanecko finally entered a plea of guilty, apologized to Mrs. Koschman on the loss of her son. His sentence – 60 days in jail, 60 days of home confinement and finally 2-1/2 years of probation.

Where is the justice?  The sentencing seems very light for the white males, light for the very wealth and light for the political nephew.



About the Author

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Hermene Hartman
Hermene Hartman serves as President and CEO of the Chicago-based, Hartman Publishing Group, INC. NDIGO, was founded in 1989 and is a significant voice in Chicago. Hartman provides social commentary on WVAZ's 102.7 radio Monday - Friday at 9:15 a.m. She is an author and appears as a guest on TV with commentary. Ms. Hartman is the founder of The NDIGO Foundation, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, which began in 1995, for the sole purpose of raising funds for educational pursuits.