National Briefs: White-collar sentencing

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WASHINGTON — The federal panel that sets sentencing policy announced Thursday that it plans in the coming year to consider changes to sentencing guidelines for some white-collar crimes.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which earlier this year reduced guideline ranges for nonviolent drug crimes, unanimously approved its latest set of priorities. The top priority will be working with Congress on reducing the scope of mandatory minimum penalties, but another goal will be measuring the fairness of sentences for fraud and other economic crimes, the commission said.

The panel had been reviewing data for several years, but plans to hear more from judges, victims and others to decide “whether there are ways the economic crime guidelines could work better,” the commission’s chairwoman, Patti Saris, a federal judge in Massachusetts, said in a statement.

Ex-Marine found dead

WASHINGTON — Retired Marine Cpl. Robert Richards, a combat veteran who was badly wounded in Afghanistan and later appeared in a controversial video urinating on dead Taliban insurgents, was found dead Wednesday night in his home in Jacksonville, N.C. He was 28.

The death was confirmed Thursday morning by Guy Womack, a lawyer who represented Mr. Richards in his long legal battle with the Marine Corps after the video was published anonymously on YouTube in January 2012 and erupted into an international scandal. Mr. Womack said the death does not appear to have been a suicide, and the cause will not be known until an autopsy and toxicology tests are completed.

Migrant release revealed

WASHINGTON — U.S. immigration officials released more than 600 undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions while the government was bracing for across-the-board spending cuts in 2013, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.

The watchdog determined that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s chief financial office decided to release thousands of detained immigrants in February 2013, hoping to cover part of an expected shortfall with a “sharp and immediate reduction in detention bed space.”

The inspector general said ICE knowingly released immigrants with criminal convictions but continued to detain those it considered to be dangerous. Federal law requires the agency to detain undocumented immigrants with criminal convictions.

‘Inversions’ targeted

WASHINGTON — Sen. Charles Schumer released a proposal Thursday that would limit deductions available for U.S. companies that take a foreign address to reduce their taxes.

Mr. Schumer, D-N.Y., wants to curb a practice known as “earnings stripping,” in which companies engage in inversion transactions and then load up their U.S. operations with debt and reduce their U.S. taxable income.

Also in the nation ...

A coalition of press freedom organizations submitted more than 100,000 signatures Thursday to the Justice Department, in a petition urging the halt of legal actions against James Risen, a New York Times reporter who refused to identify an anonymous source in the case of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA employee charged with leaking classified information. ... Lawyers for former Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger on Thursday filed a formal appeal of the sweeping 2013 racketeering conviction on charges of committing or ordering 11 murders in the 1970s and 1980s.

— Compiled from news services



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