NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

February 4, 2014

Our view: Courts failed victims of swindler lawyer

(Continued)

What Thompson really needed was a conscience.

Martin said Thompson was “not worthy of jail time” — he suggested a work-release program that would allow Thompson to “use his brilliance” for good.

“This is a person who deserves a second chance,” he said.

Actually, Thompson had second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh chances. And he took them all, along with the money of his seven or more victims.

They included an older couple who made the mistake of hiring Thompson to represent them when their house burned down. Their crooked lawyer pocketed the entire $416,000 insurance settlement.

Prosecutor Marian Ryan said other victims included the owner of a small grocery store and several poor immigrants with little English.

Thompson devastated their finances and changed their lives forever. Oh, well. At least he feels their distress every day, so they’ve got that going for them.

Here’s the point.

Every day now we are besieged by swindlers, scammers, confidence men and hackers who never rest in their schemes to find the quickest and easiest ways to separate us from our hard-earned money.

The odds of getting caught are slim, and punishment is light for the white-collar thieves who do get caught.

Jordan Belfort, the so-called “Wolf of Wall Street,” served just 22 months for the stock schemes that cost his sucker investors $200 million.

The court system had a chance in the Thompson case to send a message that those “brilliant” thieves who steal our money with a smile are just as deserving of punishment, if not more so, as the dopes who forcibly steal the contents of a cash register to buy drugs.

The system failed.

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