Wholly Thursday

Judge Shira has spoken, and Viktor Bout has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.  The fact that this is the minimum sentence mandated by law ought to tell you something about what the judge thinks of the federal government’s case.  In her remarks at sentencing, Judge Scheindlin came just about as close to calling it outright entrapment as judicial ethics will permit:

 “But for the approach made through this determined sting operation, there is no reason to believe Bout would ever have committed the charged crimes,” Scheindlin said.  The judge also ordered a $15 million forfeiture.

It’s not clear where Bout is expected to come up with that kind of money, especially since those “FARC operatives” never did buy any of his cargo planes.   Perhaps the SDNY prosecutors’ sentencing memo explicitly identified the location and magnitude of Bout’s overseas assets in order to justify forfeiture.   Lunghu kinda doubts it:  the sources and methods by which such information would be obtained are considered more valuable than the paltry $15 million nobody will ever collect.   Perhaps Rosboronexport will just have to build that cost into the price of those Hind helicopters that Afghanistan is buying with U.S. aid money.

Where do we go from here?  Bout’s attorney —Albert Dayanwill appeal the conviction.   The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will choose a new, semi-permanent home for Viktor Bout (probably after the Easter weekend, unless the U.S. Marshals are looking for an overtime detail).  And sometime later in the month, we’ll know from the BOP Inmate Locator service where Viktor is housed.  Just a reminder:  Lunghu is rooting for Fairton FCI.

In the meantime, certain people will undoubtedly encourage Comrade Bout to be more talkative and forthcoming.  There will be plenty of time to reflect and reminisce, to chat beside the steaming samovar and recall times gone by.  It’s always the little things that count.

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