Crime does pay – If your collar is white

In today’s Irish Times, Arthur Beesley further analyses the Galway oil cartel case that saw JP Lambe, a major criminal, get away with a mere six months suspended sentence and a €15,000 fine.

Lambe was described as “the enforcer’ in this operation where those distributors who wanted to stay honest were bullied and intimidated into towing the line. It is also reported that cartels might be costing Irish consumers as much as €635 million per year.

Let’s compare this case of organised crime to another recent case.

Cara Canavan (33), the mother of two small children was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing €146,000 from the HSE. In her defence, Mrs. Canavan claimed that she is a suicidal manic depressive.

The judge was clear in his reasoning for handing down such a harsh sentence.

‘A sentence had to act as a deterrent not just for the accused person but for others who might commit a similar crime.”

In my opinion the discrepancy between the two sentences can be, at least partly, explained by the colour of their collars. Mrs Canavan is a blue collar worker. When someone from this section of the community commits a crime they must be severely punished as a deterrent – ‘for others who might commit a similar crime”. It goes without saying, of course, that those without collars at all are in need of the most severe deterrents.

Mr Lambe, on the other hand, is a white collar criminal. In some circles, even the use of the word “criminal’ is a bit harsh for these people. Indeed, to my knowledge, the police don’t even include white collar crime in annual reports.

Bank officials who rob millions from their customers, Ansbacher account holders, major tax evaders, cartel enforcers, politicians who receive large amounts of “forgotten’ money and so on.

These people are not “really’ criminals. They’re upstanding members of the community, “robust’ businessmen, committed politicians, whose “good to the community/economy/State, far outweighs any “minor’ infringements of the law.

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