A federal judge last week vacated the June 3 sentencing date for Gerald Green and his wife Patricia. He also ordered production of Mr. Green's medical records from his Hollywood doctor, continued the status conference until July 1, and failed to set a new date for sentencing, raising the possibility that the Greens may never spend time behind bars.
Mr. Green, 78, and his wife Patricia, 53, were first scheduled to be sentenced by Judge George H. Wu in Los Angeles in December 2009. The Hollywood movie producers were convicted last year of paying $1.8 million in bribes to a Thai official in exchange for contracts worth about $13.5 million to produce the Bangkok Film Festival.
Sentencing has now been delayed five times. This was the first time the judge continued the case without setting a new date for sentencing.
At last week's status conference, Judge Wu ordered Gerald Green's Wilshire Boulevard doctor, Sheldon Reiss, a pulmonary specialist, to turn over Mr. Green's medical records. Mr. Green has emphysema and appears in court with an oxygen bottle to help him breathe. A copy of the court's order can be downloaded here.
At a series of post-trial hearings, the judge has asked the parties to talk about penalties handed out in similar cases. He's also heard testimony about Mr. Green's medical condition, the legal merits of the Greens' convictions, and arguments for and against their going to jail.
An LA jury in September 2009 found the Greens guilty of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, nine counts of violating the FCPA, and seven counts of money laundering. Patricia Green was also found guilty of two counts of falsely subscribing to a U.S. income tax return. After arguing that the federal guidelines call for sentences of around 20 in prison for each of the Greens, prosecutors are now apparently asking for 10-year jail terms.
Why would Judge Wu hesitate to sentence the Greens? Mr. Green's age and health are both concerns. Is it also possible the judge wasn't happy with the prosecution in the first place? It was by any measure aggressive and, to some, over the top, with the piling on of multiple bribery counts, money-laundering and tax charges. Did the judge think the government somehow unfairly ambushed the Greens? Is he resentful about the DOJ's handling of the case, which must have sent shivers down the spine of the Hollywood movie industry? We don't know the answers.
But it's clear the judge is in no hurry to send them to jail. Beyond that, he's treating Mr. and Mrs. Green as one defendant even though he could deal with them separately. If the judge believes Gerald Green's age and medical condition prevent his imprisonment, what about Mrs. Green and her sentence? Convicted couples are often handled separately. Why not the Greens? Only the judge knows and for now he's not talking.
Stay tuned for more from this sentencing cliffhanger.
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Here's the docket entry for May 27, 2010 in US v. Green et al, United States District Court, Central District of California (Western Division - Los Angeles), Case #: 2:08-cr-00059-GW-1:
MINUTES OF Status Conference 05/27/2010 held off the record before Judge George H. Wu as to Defendants Gerald Green and Patricia Green. The Court orders counsel for Mr. Green to forward the medical records to the Government by June 3, 2010. The Governments response will be due by June 17, 2010. Defendant Gerald Greens response will be due on June 24, 2010. The Status Conference is continued to July 1, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. The Sentencing hearing as to Defendants Gerald Green and Patricia Green, presently set for June 3, 2010, is vacated and taken off calendar. Court Reporter: n/a. (rs) (Entered: 06/01/2010)