Note the judge who sentenced this man to 15 years is the same judge who sentenced Sholom Rubashkin to 27:
Court upholds ex-insurance agent's 15-year stint in prison
By JEFF REINITZ • Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
WATERLOO --- A federal appeals court has upheld the sentence of a former insurance agent accused of stealing millions from his clients.
Jack Straw, a former Dunkerton resident who later moved to Cedar Rapids, pleaded guilty to fraud charges, and federal sentencing guidelines had suggested a prison stint of no more than 121 months.
But U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade opted to go beyond the guidelines and sentenced him to 180 months --- 15 years --- in prison.
Straw challenged the sentence, alleging the court improperly counted the number of victims while considering the punishment --- tallying married couples he bilked as two victims instead of one.
He also argued Reade abused her discretion when handing down the longer sentence and failed to take into consideration his mental health history and acceptance of responsibility.
Straw had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and adult antisocial behavior and checked into a mental health facility when his crimes began to come to light, according to court records.
Justices with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Straw's appeal, upholding the sentence in a ruling filed on Aug. 5.
"The district court adequately justified the upward variance and we cannot conclude the district court abused its discretion in doing so," the appellate court ruled.
The Court of Appeals also turned down Straw's claim that Reade improperly considered statements his cousin made during the sentencing hearing. The cousin alleged Straw defrauded their 91-year-old grandmother and didn't come to see her the day she died. Straw was never convicted of misappropriating the grandmother's property.