Fraudster Nicholson Wants New (Presumably Shorter) Sentence

Jun 17 2011 | 3:53am ET

Convicted hedge fund fraudster James Nicholson would like to be out of prison before his 80s. So he's blaming his lawyer for the 40-year sentence he received last year and asking the court for a do-over.

The Westgate Capital Management scammer, who ripped investors off to the tune of $140 million, has a new lawyer. And, unsurprisingly, that new lawyer doesn't think much of the job his old lawyer did.

"In an atmosphere of growing judicial criticism of the fraud guidelines and increasing disparity among sentences in fraud cases based on different judicial philosophies—precisely the disparity that national sentencing policy endeavors to eliminate—it was incumbent on counsel to preserve all sentencing challenges, not bargain them away for illusory gain," Andrew Frisch wrote. As part of Nicholson's plea agreement, he waived his right to appeal his sentence.

The New Jersey man had second thoughts when U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in November handed down a 40-year sentence; Frisch noted that Nicholson was under the impression that a sentence in excess of 20 years was "a theoretical but not a real possibility."

Frisch said Nicholson is not seeking to change his guilty plea.

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