When last we discussed Bruce Karatz, former CEO of KB Homes who was facing either probation or 6.5 years in prison, according to whose calculator you used, the question of what would become of Karatz had yet to be determined. Judge Otis D. Wright II has fixed that.
Karatz was sentenced, as recommended by the probation officer, to five years probation with 8 months of home detention at his “24 room Bel-Air mansion.” We know this because it was specifically pointed out by the government in its sentencing memorandum, which Judge Wright called, “mean-spirited and beneath this office.”
“To promote respect for the law, the public must be assured that a wealthy, well-connected individual, regardless of his station, array of prominent friends and associates, history of private success or acts of public largess, will be subject to the same standard of criminal justice as those less fortunate,” prosecutors wrote.
Judge Wright did not appreciate the government’s take on things.
“But what was even more disturbing was the inflammatory language in the government’s report that if this court did not impose a harsh sentence that it was evidence of a two-tiered justice system, one of the rich and one for everyone else,” the judge said. “To invite public ridicule and scorn on this institution, I think, is unspeakable.”
Unspeakable though it may be, Judge Wright spoke it. Loud and clear. But if the court’s expression of its views up to this point remain somewhat, shall we say, obtuse, then consider this:
“I don’t care, sir, whether or not you have a pot to piss in,” Judge Wright said to Mr. Karatz. “What you get here is fairness.”
Now there’s something to carve into the marble pillars above the courthouse door. And I have nothing further to say.