Los Angeles Expert Attorneys

Fraud Case Verdict for a Wal-mart Executive Too Simple – Court of Appeals

The appeals court has ordered, last Tuesday, to review the punishment given to a former Wal-Mart executive for his fraud case. The offender, Tom Coughlin, was sentenced to home detention but the prosecutors contended that U.S District Judge Robert T. Dawson disregarded the weight of the defendant’s crime and focused more on his status in the community.


Los Angeles, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/06/2007 -- The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has made their ruling that the 27-month home detention and 33-month probation period punishment to Coughlin was too light.

The appeals body’s split decision stated that the offender’s social authority and connections, complimented by his corporate influences, aggravate the basis of his fraudulent acts to his own company as well as other U.S. businesses.

Coughlin, who has retired last January 2005, has served Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which was considered as the world’s largest retailer chain, for twenty-eight years of service. In his stay at the company, he was able to reach the second highest position and was able to gain the trust of company founder Sam Walton.

Months after his retirement, Coughlin was accused of disbursing Wal-Mart finances and gift cards for his personal use. The company’s Bentonville based store said that he has managed to use the money for his hunting trips, dog trainings, clothing, liquor and car works.

In January 2006, the accused accepted his fault on the charges that were filed against him before the court judge. In his decision, Judge Dawson has ruled out a five-year probation verdict for Coughlin after mentioning about his noble community works and not so good health conditions. This sentence included a 27-month detention at home. He was also asked to pay the fine of $50,000 and $411,218 in restitution to Wal-Mart.

However, the penalized executive was permitted to have medical appointments with his doctors and to attend Sunday church services.

The punishment given to Coughlin does not fall within the range of reasonableness, Judge William Riley has affirmed. He further stated that the amount of restitution should include interest. Dawson made a mistake in affirming that the offender could not afford to pay it since Coughlin’s net worth was estimated to be at around $50,000.

On the contrary, Judge Kermit Bye supported Dawson’s decision and said that the sentence was justifiable because of Coughlin’s poor health conditions.

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