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Ex-Rite Aid Exec May Face 10 to 12 1/2 Years

August 19, 2004|From Bloomberg News

The judge who will sentence Rite Aid Corp.'s former top lawyer Franklin C. Brown to prison for conspiring to inflate earnings and obstruct U.S. investigations said she won't use federal guidelines to set his term because they are unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Sylvia Rambo said those guidelines recommend a term of 10 years to 12 1/2 years, a range she will use as a framework for sentencing Brown, 76, on Aug. 30. She will use an "indeterminate scheme" to sentence Brown, who was also vice chairman, she said in a ruling made public Wednesday.

Rambo based her ruling on a U.S. Supreme Court decision that voided Washington state's sentencing guidelines in June because they permitted punishment increases based on facts not determined by a jury. Other federal judges have declared the U.S. guidelines invalid since the ruling by the Supreme Court, which has agreed to review conflicting decisions on the matter.

"Although the court will rule that the guidelines are unconstitutional, the court will use them as a framework to craft an appropriate sentence," Rambo ruled in Harrisburg, Pa.

Rambo presided over Brown's trial, at which a jury convicted the former top lawyer on 10 of 11 counts Oct. 17, including conspiracy to defraud Rite Aid, conspiracy to obstruct justice, witness tampering and obstructing a grand jury and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

Rambo has sentenced five other former executives of Camp Hill, Pa.-based Rite Aid, including Timothy J. Noonan, who helped prosecutors and received two years probation.

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