Newsmax: Experts Slam D'Souza Sentence

Originally posted at Newsmax.

Legal experts and former federal regulatory officials on Tuesday slammed the sentence of probation with eight months of confinement imposed on conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza for federal campaign-finance violations.

“He never should have been prosecuted for this at all,” Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax. “This was a small, well-motivated mistake.

“Just probation would have been the appropriate sentence in this case,” he added. “No confinement anywhere.”

David Mason, a former commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, laughed when asked about D’Souza’s confinement.

“It’s not going to do anybody any good, I guess that’s my first thought,” he told Newsmax. “My second thought is that the judge certainly exercised good sense in rejecting the prosecution’s call to put him in jail for a one-time thing like this — which was bad judgment, but frankly didn’t hurt anybody.”

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan sentenced D’Souza, 53, to eight months in a community confinement center during five years of probation after the latter pleaded guilty to violating campaign-finance laws.

D’Souza, whose top-grossing 2012 documentary blasted President Barack Obama, was also fined $30,000 and ordered to teach English to non-English-speaking people eight hours a week while on probation.

Berman also imposed therapeutic counseling on D’Souza, in which he is to participate for five years.

D’Souza’s movie, 2016: Obama’s America, remains a top-grossing documentary, with a take of more than $33.4 million. He released America, in July, which has so far grossed over $14.4 million.

In May, D’Souza pleaded guilty to illegally reimbursing two “straw donors” who donated $10,000 each to the unsuccessful 2012 U.S. Senate campaign in New York of Wendy Long, a first-time Republican candidate whom he had known since attending Dartmouth College in the early 1980s.

He is a naturalized citizen from Mumbai, India, who also served as a policy analyst in the Reagan administration.

Before imposing sentence, Berman repeatedly criticized D’Souza, saying he continued to deflect responsibility and minimize his crime.

“I think I have figured out a little bit more about Mr. D’Souza,” Berman said. “He’s a talker. In fact, he’s almost a compulsive talker. I don’t think he’s a listener.”

D’Souza, however, said, “I got the stupid idea” of making the reimbursements. “I wish I didn’t do something so bad and so stupid.”

“I chose to help her in the worst possible way,” he added, referring to Long. “It was a crazy idea, it was a bad idea. I regret breaking the law.”

Prosecutors had sought a prison term of 10 to 16 months, rejecting defense arguments that D’Souza was “ashamed and contrite” about his crime and deserved probation with community service.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for D’Souza to serve a year in prison.

Berman said a probationary sentence was appropriate but added: “I do think that it’s important to put some teeth into the probationary period.” D’Souza seemed relieved when Berman ruled out prison. His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, patted his shoulder.

The January indictment was widely attacked by conservatives and liberals alike as a form of retribution for D’Souza’s 2012 film.

In their Newsmax interviews, Dershowitz and Mason furthered those accusations in criticizing the eight-month confinement with D’Souza’s probation.

“He’s not dangerous. He’s not a bad person,” Dershowitz said. “He’s very controversial.

“I disagree with most of his political views, but I don’t think we should be using the criminal law to imprison people or confine people who have made an honest mistake, which is what he did — and he fessed up to it.

“It was just to help a friend in a losing cause,” the Harvard Law professor added. “It wasn’t venal. It wasn’t motivated by any desire to help himself.”

Perhaps the entire incident has been more discomfiting for D’Souza than anything else, Mason said.

“Dinesh has been profoundly embarrassed by this. He understands that he broke the law,” he told Newsmax. “Everybody else understands that he broke the law.

“This kind of one-time activity involving a personal friend is not the kind of thing, in my view, that somebody should go to jail for – or even should have to undergo any period where their freedom is limited, which is what’s going to happen to him in the halfway house.”

Mason served on the FEC from 1998 to 2008, having been first appointed by President Bill Clinton and reappointed by President George W. Bush.

He has told Newsmax that cases involving small amounts of campaign-financing issues are usually resolved at a low level.

“I don’t know why or how his case even came to the prosecutor’s attention, because in the world of campaign finance this is very small, and it’s completely insignificant,” Mason said on Tuesday. “So how, why this particular case came up and the prosecutor decided to pursue it, I don’t know.

“We have campaign-finance limits, and people can disagree with them or not, but if we have rules, people have to follow them and you have punishment to deter people from violating them.

“In this case, because of the amount involved and because of the type of race it was and other circumstances, a civil penalty – which would’ve been a fine that he would’ve paid to the FEC – would’ve been more than enough,” Mason said.

“Prosecuting this as a criminal case was overkill.”

Read more at Newsmax.

Keep reading:

VIDEO: D'Souza Speaks Out About Sentencing
D'Souza Sentenced to Probation, No Jail Time
Townhall: Prosecutors Misled Judge in Pursuit of Prison For D'Souza
Washington Free Beacon: The Hillary Letters
Dinesh Opens Up to "New Republic" in Revealing Interview
Business Insider: The US Threatened To Prosecute Families Of The 2 Murdered Americans If They Paid A Ransom To ISIS
James Foley's Mother: "Our Efforts To Get Jim Freed Were An Annoyance" To The Government
VIDEO: D'Souza Debates Ward Churchill on "The Kelly File"
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  • Geneva Coats says:

    September 25, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    And yet Lois Lerner still walks around in her $2.5 million mansion, Hillary continues to lie her way to the top and Obama has never answered for his crimes in the middle east.

  • Bob says:

    September 25, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    We all know why he was prosecuted because he was a pebble in the shoe of those in power and needed to be used to set an example of what will happen to those who dare cause the slightest irritation especially to a narcissistic megalomaniac.

  • Paul Johnson says:

    September 25, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    We all know why this was prosecuted by the Feds in criminal court .The politicization of the justice system is starting to resemble that of Stalinist Russia. Selective enforcement of the law at this level is an obvious threat to liberty and freedom.

  • Paula says:

    September 25, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    I wasn’t up on much of this – just that he was being prosecuted – but who prosecuted him? Eric Holder’s injustice department?

  • Simba says:

    September 25, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    To bad he’s not a Democrack they could have made him head of the IRS. They accept Dems that forget to pay their taxes, or make huge mistakes, they tend to be rewarded with jobs that pay top salary. But if your a Rep and make a mistake you get to go to jail, pay retribution, be confined, or community service work.

  • dmichaele says:

    September 25, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Selective justice, indeed. He made a mistake. So did Hillary. Liberals are upset because they wanted him silenced.

  • D. Brown says:

    September 25, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    I agree the punishment is still overkill and most likely the judge was politically motivated. Maybe D’Souza’s next documentary will be on the topic of political manipulation in the courts and attorneys who have sold their souls.

  • Dave Posh says:

    September 25, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    If the same targeting and sentencing logic was used against George Soros for all his violations of campaign-finance laws, George would be in a community confinement center for 667 years with 5,000 years of probation. This is all purely political punishment for exposing the truth they don’t want exposed.

  • Doris Orvis says:

    September 25, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    This is hard to believe when so many other politicians have committed fraud much worse than Dinesh has. This is laughable, but the sentence is not! Yes he went against the law, and he was going to reimburse the people and said he was sorry, and still they got him. I think it is a revenge sentence. The judge may be a Dem and thought he needed to do this. It’s just crazy! Someone needs to appeal big time here or put the others who have done the same or worse in jail also. Let’s start with Obama, he used dead people, stillborn babies, abortion babies, felons, and illegals to cast votes in his favor, now that needs to be punished severely! He hurt millions of people and still is. Dinesh has hurt no one, he didn’t do it for himself, but for a friend. To pay the money back and maybe a fine would have been enough since he already apologized. This is revenge for the movies and his point of views. This government disgusts me!

  • John Gaeta says:

    September 25, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    You thanked the judge for having pity on you and softening the sentencing. You are just like every other crony politician you write about. You stand for justice and freedom and democracy yet you can’t man up and apologize to Americans for your actions. Why should we ever trust you as a political writer when you pay for votes? Disgusting, you lost 90% of your credibility. Really think about how hypocritical your actions were. Slimed by your dirtiness and your posts on FB show how upset you are that you got caught breaking the law. Best of luck to your career, and I’ll be happy to see an apology at some point. J.G.

  • Jersey Jim says:

    September 25, 2014 at 5:49 PM

    Dave Posh(above comment) said it best by using George Soros as the perfect example for how people who have an unlimited supply of money and influence can undermine our justice system, pushing it more and more toward progressive liberalism/socialism, and that just sucks!

  • Jersey Jim says:

    September 25, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    What happened to my comment that I just posted? What? Are you guys censoring me?

  • TommyG says:

    September 26, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    “Before imposing sentence, Berman repeatedly criticized D’Souza, saying he continued to deflect responsibility and minimize his crime.” Uh, yeah, who wouldn’t. We all know that this was a political witch hunt. Dear God, what has happened to out Country?

    “I think I have figured out a little bit more about Mr. D’Souza,” Berman said. “He’s a talker. In fact, he’s almost a compulsive talker. I don’t think he’s a listener.” That Judge sounds like quite the talker too.

    I totally agree that Dinesh should have never been prosecuted. A small fine at the most.

  • TommyG says:

    September 26, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    John Gaeta, Just hope that the full power and money of the government doesn’t come after you for something as minor as what Dinesh did. Then maybe you will change your tone. Dinesh admitted what he did was not the best thing to do. But to go after him with a prosecution? Liberals do this kind of stuff everyday. Where is your outcry? Crickets… You are a Liberal. Liberals lie and cheat because they believe the ends jusitifies the means; …. and you are talking about credibility? LOL! Dinesh has more credibility in his baby toe than the entire Democrat party has in its entirety.

  • Dixon Webb says:

    September 26, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    There’s no justice in such a warped court. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime at all. Not even close. Dinesh made an error of judgement very similar to countless others made by political personalities both in and out of office. Most are overlooked entirely or given mild and considerate probation or public service. Dinesh is a vocal and accurate opponent to the present administration and it’s ultra liberal policies. That was the only reason he received such an irresponsible and severe punishment. The Federal Court System should condemn the Judge who applied it.

  • PAC says:

    September 26, 2014 at 5:07 PM

    I’m still waiting for someone to me, the fairness of the law that makes it perfectly ok for Bill Maher to give a MILLION DOLLARS to Obama’s campaign while Dinesh was almost sent to jail for 18 months for donating $20k to his friend of many years.

    Just looking at the list of Obama’s donors alone is a who’s who list of money grabbing executives lined up for govenement handouts and each of them give money directly to politicians so they can get all sorts of handouts, freebies and special exemptions.

    But Dinesh…shame on you for trying to do the same thing to help your friend…SHAME!!! (sarcasm off)

  • Sally MJ says:

    September 26, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    D’Souza is SENTENCED to teach English to non-English speaking immigrants 8 hours a week? You mean he is INVITED to do so. They will end up conservatives when he is done with them.

  • Tony Rodriguez says:

    September 28, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    Dinesh , I hope you learned your lesson from this . These people are not joking , they want your hide for exposing their corruption and you are a target . Be careful and stay blessed .

  • Dave Denny II says:

    September 28, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    Perhaps there are some moral truly honest attorneys out there who will compete for the privilege of appealing this incredible miscarriage of justice. This man is a HERO!