Thursday, December 06, 2007

Transy Thieves Want Shorter Sentences

The four men currently serving 87-month prison terms for assaulting a librarian and stealing rare books from Transylvania University back in December 2004 were in court yesterday, seeking reductions of their sentences.

"Defense attorneys and federal prosecutors appealed the sentence on different grounds. Defense lawyers, in oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday, argued that [U.S. District Judge Jennifer] Coffman erred when she ruled that a stun pen used to subdue Transy librarian B.J. Gooch during the heist was a dangerous weapon. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the use of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a crime increases the amount of time spent in prison. In the case of the four men, the finding that a dangerous weapon was used translated to about a 17-month increase in their sentence."

Prosecutors argued that 87 months was in fact too light a sentence, saying that Coffman, "when calculating the loss to the university, failed to add the value of several books that Borsuk and Lipka dropped in a stairwell when they were leaving the special-collections library. ... Coffman calculated that the loss to the university was about $735,000. But if the books, including two volumes of Audubon's Birds of America, that the men had intended to steal but dropped were included in that tally, the men would have received an additional 21 months in federal prison."

The attorney for one of the thieves, Charles Allen, argued that his client's sentence should have been lower because Allen's role was minor. The lawyer also claimed that federal prosecutors had "violated an agreement between Allen and investigators."

"The three-judge panel did not issue a ruling after yesterday's hearing in federal court in Cincinnati. If the panel decides Coffman erred, the case will be remanded to the federal district court and the men will be resentenced."

We know from their December Vanity Fair article that these guys have expressed no remorse for what they did. They deserve to serve every second of those 87 months, and if prosecutors can make their case for more time, all the better.