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A man without compassion for his many victims, with an expression that defines chutzpah, sought compassionate release from his 110-year sentence in United States of America v. John T Veysey III, no. 99 CR 00381-1, United States District Court, ND Illinois, Eastern Division (March 2, 2023). John T. Veysey III, while currently serving a 110-year prison sentence for fraud, arson and aggravated arson, moved the USDC for compassionate release because he was fat, had high blood pressure and was afraid of the Covid pandemic.
Throughout the 1990s, Veysey devised various lethal schemes to cause losses and collect insurance proceeds. Among other crimes, Veysey fraudulently obtained $959,849.47 in insurance proceeds from a car accident involving his first wife, from the death of his first wife, and from arson for profit to three of his residences. He attempted to obtain an additional $1.3 million in insurance proceeds by attempting to kill his second wife and then-infant in a house fire, and he planned to fake the deaths of another woman and her sons.
On March 6, 2001, after a six-week trial, a jury found Veysey guilty on 18 counts. Consistent with the then-binding sentencing guidelines, the USDC sentenced Veysey to the statutory maximum of 110 years in prison.
Veysey argued that several factors warrant a sentence reduction, including his health, ongoing risks associated with covid-19 in the federal prison system, alleged disparities in sentencing between him and other offenders, his alleged rehabilitation and his preparation to reintegrate into society. On July 6, 2022, Veysey filed an updated motion in which he discusses covid-19 risks, his ongoing health issues, and his level of risk for recidivism.
Generally, a federal court may not modify a prison sentence once it has been imposed. The court may reduce the sentence if “extraordinary and weighty reasons” justify release.
Extraordinary and compelling reasons
The type of extraordinary and exigent circumstances contemplated by the statute include some new fact about an inmate’s health or family status, or an equivalent post-conviction development, not a mere legal claim for which the statute provides other avenues for relief. Legal arguments that a first sentence was made by mistake do not qualify.
Veysey first points to his medical conditions – including high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and obesity – as circumstances that warrant a reduced sentence. Veysey may not use a motion for release to argue that the trial court’s original sentencing decision was erroneous.
Additionally, Veysey offered evidence of his rehabilitation while in prison. But rehabilitation alone is not an extraordinary and compelling reason for release, nor can rehabilitation make otherwise ordinary circumstances extraordinary.
The fact that Veysey has now spent several years in prison and has made efforts to prepare for life outside prison does not qualify as an extraordinary and compelling reason that could justify his release.
Although Mr. Were Veysey to present an extraordinary and compelling reason for compassionate release, the court would still deny his motion under the § 3553(a) factors. “Consideration of even one factor in § 3553(a) may show that the others are irrelevant.”
The first factor in § 3553(a), which addresses the “nature and circumstances” of a defendant’s crime and personal circumstances, argues strongly against a reduced sentence. His crimes were shocking:
- Veysey killed his first wife,
- tried to kill his second wife and then grandson,
- burned several houses, and
- bought life insurance coverage on another woman shortly before he was arrested – all to collect insurance money.
Veysey carried out these extraordinarily serious crimes over several years, destroying many lives and causing enormous emotional and physical pain and financial damage.
Even if Veysey had presented the court with an extraordinary and compelling reason for his release, consideration of § 3553(a)(1) alone would provide a sufficient basis to deny his motion.
Veysey is proof that insurance fraud is a violent crime. He managed murder, arson for profit and insurance fraud for years before being arrested, convicted, sentenced and imprisoned for 110 years. Like the person who murdered his parents and sought empathy because he was an orphan, Veysey defined the Yiddish term “chutzah” by asking to be released because in prison he became obese, had high blood pressure and AFIB. The USDC, wisely, refused his request because his condition was neither extraordinary nor compelling reason for release, but on the contrary, there was a compelling reason to keep him in prison forever.
(c) 2023 Barry Zalma & ClaimSchool, Inc.
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Barry Zalma, Esq., CFE, now limits his practice to serving as an insurance consultant specializing in insurance coverage, insurance claims management, insurance bad faith and insurance fraud almost equally for insurers and policyholders. He practiced law in California for more than 44 years as an insurance coverage and claims attorney and more than 54 years in the insurance industry. He can be reached at http://www.zalma.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
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