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COMMENTARY OF THE DAY
by
Robert Namer
Voice Of America
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APRIL 5, 2018

     No big deal - Mueller big waste of time and money.  A lawyer who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller's office was sentenced Tuesday to one month in jail and a $20,000 fine.  Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen who lives in London, is the first person sentenced in connection with Mueller's investigation. Four other people have publicly pleaded guilty to date, but unlike van der Zwaan, their plea deals included cooperation agreements, delaying their sentencings. Van der Zwaan's sentence sends a message that jail time is on the table even for defendants who plead guilty to relatively low-level crimes.

     US District Judge Amy Berman Jackson was unpersuaded by van der Zwaan's pitch that a fine alone would be sufficient. She noted that he had lied to the government in the midst of an investigation — Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election — of national and international importance. He was an educated and accomplished lawyer, who had his own attorneys when he met with the special counsel's office, and he had taken several steps to deceive investigators, the judge said.

     Jackson noted that unlike many of the defendants who come before her for nonviolent crimes and face incarceration and the hardships that can cause to their families, van der Zwaan had significant financial assets and other resources at his disposal. "This glass was dropped on a very thick carpet, and it's cushioned the blow," the judge said.  Van der Zwaan's faced a recommended sentencing range of zero to six months. Jackson said that allowing van der Zwaan to write a check and walk away would not accomplish the goal of deterring others from committing a similar crime. "The criminal justice system isn't supposed to favor those with means," she said.
 
 

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