Citing risk of prison during pandemic, judge gives probation only to man who took $2.5 million in bribes - VT Digger

A Florida man in poor health escaped any prison time despite taking $2.5 million in bribes while “overseeing” federal energy efficiency projects, including one at the VA in White River.

"Bhaksar Patel, 69, appeared by Zoom for the hearing Friday morning, where Judge Geoffrey Crawford sentenced Patel to three years probation — a far cry from the 70-87 months of imprisonment recommended by federal sentencing guidelines, largely because of Patel’s failing health. “The reasons for the lower, non-incarcerative sentence are several,” Crawford said to Patel during the hearing. “But above all, I would identify your poor health, and the prevailing conditions of the pandemic.” He noted that someone like Patel, who has kidney failure, for which he receives dialysis treatments three times a week, would be at “great risk of death or serious illness” in prison, particularly given the outbreaks of Covid-19 in prisons across the country in recent months.."

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