Over The Hump to La Tuna.

A long time ago, I noted the scandal over the Santa Monica sushi restaurant, “The Hump”, which closed after it was discovered they were serving whale sushi.

A few days ago, Typhoon Restaurant Inc. (“The Hump”‘s parent company), chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, and chef Susumu Ueda were indicted on federal charges. Specifically, “nine counts of conspiracy to import and sell whale meat from 2007 to 2010, a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act.”

Quoth the LAT:

Yamamoto could face up to 67 years in federal prison and Ueda would served up to 10 years if convicted.

Other sources reported other possible sentences, like 77 years and even “life in prison”.

So? Well, beyond the followup aspect, Ken over at Popehat has the kind of brilliant post that only Ken can write, using this indictment to explain how sentencing in the federal system actually works.

Those numbers bear no relation to reality.

I encourage you to go read the whole post, as it shines a huge frigging spotlight on a little understood area of federal law. Cutting to the chase, Ken (who has worked both as a federal prosecutor and a defense attorney; he’s a for-real lawyer, not just someone with an Internet GED in law like me) figures that the defendants are probably looking at 24 to 30 months, and that’s if their lawyers can’t make a good argument to the judge that they should serve less time.

Lessons:
1. Maximum sentences have very little relation to actual sentences in federal law. When the government quotes the maximum sentence, they are trying to scare you. When the press quotes it, they are uninformed or lazy. Exercise skepticism. Resist emotional appeals to “how is this sentence reasonable when murderers get less?”

(FCI La Tuna.)

One Response to “Over The Hump to La Tuna.”

  1. [...] course, that’s based on Federal sentencing guidelines and it is possible that he will get less time th…. I don’t want to speculate on how much he will get; unlike the fairly straightforward case [...]