Judge for a Day: Pass sentence on the Borgata Baron (1 Viewer)

What prison sentence does Christian Lusardi's DVD bootlegging operation warrant?

  • No prison - supervised release and/or restitution is sufficient

    Votes: 6 30.0%
  • 1 year

    Votes: 2 10.0%
  • 2-3 years

    Votes: 4 20.0%
  • 4-5 years

    Votes: 6 30.0%
  • 5-7 years

    Votes: 1 5.0%
  • 8-10 years

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 10+ years

    Votes: 1 5.0%

  • Total voters
    20

jbutler

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This was discussed in group emails weeks ago, but for some reason it has popped into my mind more than a few times since.

Full story here, but the Cliff's is that the guy, Christian Lusardi, who attempted to use counterfeit Borgata T5k chips a while back (previous story here) recently pleaded guilty to charges resulting from a DVD bootlegging operation which appears to have resulted in $1.3MM in sales. He was sentenced to 60 months in prison followed by 3 years supervised release and ordered to pay $1.1MM in restitution.

I made known in the email thread my feelings about the sentence, but I'm curious whether there is a consensus, so vote above for what prison term you think is reasonable. Assume for the purposes of your vote that you can also sentence him to whatever period of supervised release following incarceration and order whatever restitution you wish.
 

DrStrange

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I'll assume that the charges are fair and the confession legitimate. I qualify this way because, in the USA, you can not jump to the conclusions about justice being served. If anything, it seems prudent to assume the process was flawed. Also I assume he will serve the whole sentance.

I voted for the longest option because of the size of the fraud and that Mr Lusardi seems likely to reoffend. Normally I think prisoners are over convicted, spend too long in jail and are supervised too long but not in this case.

A million plus dollar theft is a big deal. Stealing $1.3 million and giving back $1.1 million seems rather light even with a five year sentance. The risk needs to be significant enough to keep guys like this in check. It wasn't a spur of the moment bad decision or a drunken/drugged out mistake. This guy made a calculation that the risk was worth it - not too likely to get caught and if caught not going to be punished much.

Given the Borgata incident, I am willing to assume this theft wasn't his first rodeo (though I know the jury shouldn't do that). I see him as an on-going criminal enterprize not a one time offender and want to deal with him harshly.

DrStrange
 

kirchhausen

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I voted 4-5 years. I have no clue about sentencing guidelines, so I will defer to the judge who sentenced him. Curious what his prior record is, if he has been convicted of other fraudulent crimes in the past I might be tempted to change my vote to a longer sentence.
 

Tommy

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Any pics of the counterfeit chips been released?
 

Ben

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He paid $1.1m restitution on $1.3m in sales? That definitely puts him in the red, and probably by a couple hundred grand at least. One does not make and distribute $1.3m worth of bootleg DVDs without racking up considerable expenses... That's like saying Chino Rheem has $1.3m in lifetime tourney winnings and therefore should have it on hand to pay back his creditors (lol.)

Voted for one year, on the situation in a vacuum. He should go to jail, but I feel like 3-6 months on top of that restitution is sufficient. Not like he really hurt anyone (although, his other alleged acts may point to a larger problem, but as a "judge" I cannot and should not take that into account here.)

Where exactly does the "restitution" go? To the artists financially harmed by his operation? How do they determine that? If it goes to the State, GTFO. :rolleyes:
 

jbutler

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Any pics of the counterfeit chips been released?

best i could do via google image. one of these things is not like the others...

PMegQVJ.jpg


on the upside, this incident caused Borgata to order a shitload of chips from Game On.
 

Tommy

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best i could do via google image. one of these things is not like the others...

PMegQVJ.jpg


on the upside, this incident caused Borgata to order a shitload of chips from Game On.

10+ for a shitty job. :eek:

I do remember that GOCC got the order for new tourney chips. I think there was a news clip of the owner talking about it and how they did background checks on him.
 

abby99

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It really bothers me when people want to let white-collar criminals off easy because they didn't hurt anybody. Really? OK, so nobody died or was maimed, but that doesn't mean that nobody was hurt. This isn't his first significant crime. His sentence should hurt. Where will he be serving it? A penitentiary, or Club Fed?

That said, II think it's more important to lock up murderers, rapists, and child molesters than the perpetrators of white collar crime, not because non-violent crime doesn't warrant a stiff sentence, but because we have limited resources. I also think that white-color criminals shouldn't be housed with violent criminals.

I'm voting for 1 year in a minimum-security facility and 5 years of supervised release. I would add a significant fine, which should be used to pay for the cost of his incarceration. If he doesn't have the money (as is probably the case), both the restitution and the fine should be debt that can't be discharged through bankruptcy.

When I'm Queen, I'll make some changes. Count on it. ;)
 
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Forty4

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best i could do via google image. one of these things is not like the others...

PMegQVJ.jpg


on the upside, this incident caused Borgata to order a shitload of chips from Game On.
Doesn't even look close. How does one even pass by the dealer?
 

Jeff

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Both of these crimes require significant intent, forethought, and planning. If you give him a slap on the wrist, he calculates +EV by scamming and he'll get even more creative. His punishment should be severe. I voted 4-5 years for the first sentence.

And if he gets out and gets caught again, they should really throw the book at him.
 

Gear

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I dunno, whenever I read about cases like this I hear the phrase "it's only illegal if you get caught" which I don't much like.
 

tigon

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1-2 years without any priors or even a fairly long probation, 4-5 taking all the information we have into account.
 

DrStrange

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Read this thread and one can appreciate why prosecutors do not often pursue cases of mass fraud / theft / misappropriation. The parties benefiting from the financial crimes rarely face jail time, fine or even the loss of employment / professional licensing. The crimes are complex, jurors are rarely sophisticated and often just shrug off the losses (I think in part because the sums are too large relative to the jury's life experience).

In the last twenty years trillions of dollars of {perhaps} fraudulent losses have been absorbed by the American public but only a dozen people have been jailed. Collectively these losses are a devastating to small time investors, current and former home owners. Perhaps you don't see a line items on your 401(k) statement that says "losses due to frauds" but I assure you that a chunk of your net worth is gone and a fraction of that is in the hands of a handful of professional {perhaps} criminals.

I qualify this with {perhaps} because we really don't know if the actions were unlawful since we had no trial, no investigation, no evidence gathered and no resolution. I know people ( one lawyer and one accountant ) who helped create and legitimize the Enron frauds. Meaning that they had personal knowledge of the frauds and were directly involved with the legal and accounting that created the fraud and concealed it. Their reaction when confronted was about the way Gear described it - "we weren't prosecuted so it must have been legal. Sucks to be you, but I got paid millions of dollars for my hard work".

I read this thread and get the general impression that few people find the loss of a couple of hundred thousand dollars that big a deal - after all the victim(s) got 1.1 million back out of 1.3 million in losses AND the criminal didn't even make a profit after restitution. Perhaps in part because the theft was of an intangible and the victim(s) are "rich". Yet we will send people to long terms of incarceration for thefts less than $1,000 as habitual criminals. Our jails are filled with drug users, petty criminals, and a some really bad people who need to be there. But white collar criminals stealing big dollars rarely are held to the same harsh standards that apply to lesser criminals.

DrStrange
 

Ben

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In the last twenty years trillions of dollars of {perhaps} fraudulent losses have been absorbed by the American public but only a dozen people have been jailed. Collectively these losses are a devastating to small time investors, current and former home owners. Perhaps you don't see a line items on your 401(k) statement that says "losses due to frauds" but I assure you that a chunk of your net worth is gone and a fraction of that is in the hands of a handful of professional {perhaps} criminals.

I don't disagree with any of this, but I would disagree that any of it is applicable to this particular case. Describing the actions of this guy as "white collar crime" is laughable - he could be the poster boy for the next "dumb criminals" special. Of the alleged $1.3 million in DVD "sales," what percentage do you believe would have resulted in LEGITIMATE sales had he not come along? I would bet that it's near zero. I'm not sure how the distribution of such is actually accomplished (I doubt it actually involves Fat Tony from the Simpsons opening up a trench coat full of bootleg DVDs to random passers-by as I envision, but you never know... ;)) but I do know that almost any end-user DVD purchase (whether the source is legitimate or illegitimate) is an impulse buy. "Oh look, Paul Blart 2 for $4? Sure, why not???" Not having had said opportunity, said user is not then going to march to Dollar General to purchase a copy for $20 - the percentage who would is tiny.

(Aside: Dollar General no longer has all those copies of Paul Blart 2 available. So either they sold 30 copies at $20 a pop, or realized how ridiculous they looked. Either outcome depresses me. :eek:)

In any case, after restitution is paid, I'm pretty sure the only person who lost a dime as a result of Lusardi's "piracy operation" was Lusardi. Combine that with the fact that such an operation requires more of an "investment" in terms of equipment, time, manpower, and stress than many "legal" businesses that he could have gone into, puts him squarely in the "dumb criminals" camp - and THEN there was the Borgata thing. :)
 

tigon

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If this was his first sentence, I'd strongly lean towards a light sentence/probation. But given that he's now repeatedly demonstrated a seeming inability to make money by honest means, he needs to be punished. I'd rather that be "rehabilitated" rather than "punished", but that's another thread. The current prison system seems designed to deter crime rather than rehabilitate criminals, so the sentence should reflect that. I can easily see someone like Lusardi getting out on parole in 3 years by gaming the system without making any positive change in his life.
 

grandgnu

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I was torn between 2-3 years and 4-5 years, but ultimately went with 2-3 years. I think he should have to pay more than the $1.1 million in restitution. I'm not a fan of people being allowed to freeroll with crime (i.e. I stole a thousand bucks, if I get caught I just have to pay the thousand bucks back, where is my incentive NOT to steal?)

Combined with his history as a habitual offender and yeah, don't let this guy off with a slap on the wrist. I'd say:

3 year prison sentence
$1.5 million in restitution
5 years supervised after release
 
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