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Did racism and discrimination play a part in sentencing Nikesh Patel?

Jesse Jackson seeks probe into sentencing of Indian American businessman convicted of selling fraudulent loans

Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson wants a US attorney’s office to investigate whether racism and discrimination played a part in the sentencing of an Indian American investment banker convicted of selling fraudulent loans.

Nikesh Patel, 39, was sentenced by the Northern District Court of Illinois to 25 years in prison in 2018 for selling $179 million in fraudulent loans. His sentence is two and a half times longer than that of his white partner and co-conspirator Timothy Fisher.

Read: Florida Indian American businessman Nikesh Patel arrested for $150 million fraud had hosted Gov. Rick Scott at his house in April (October 6, 2014)

Patel’s parents, Ajay and Rohini Patel, approached Jackson last month, saying they believed racism and discrimination played a significant role in Patel’s sentencing, according to the Hill.

During a pre-sentencing hearing, Assistant US Attorney Patrick J. King Jr. said Patel, chairman and CEO of First Farmers Financial, and Fisher, president and COO of the company, were more or less equal in the crime and that “one could not have done it with the other,” according to Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, cited by the Hill.

Still, Fisher was offered a plea deal capped at 10 years, compared to Patel’s 25-year sentence. Fisher was sentenced to 10 years and was released after two through the compassionate release program because he suffers from asthma.

But the Patels say their son also has asthma, and even though he helped recover $86 million and has offered to recover even more upon his release, Patel has received no reduction in his prison time.

Jackson, according to the Hill, is urging the US attorney’s office to consider releasing Patel on home confinement, the same way President Biden has commuted the sentences of and even pardoned nonviolent offenders.

Read: Jesse Jackson urges US Attorney’s Office to investigate sentencing of Indian American businessman (November 16, 2022)

“Here is another case where a family can be saved, and [Patel] can be a valuable asset to the community,” Jackson stated. “Tough times do not last but tough people do. Let’s work together to seek justice for Nikesh and the millions of those incarcerated along with their families.”

Patel, from Orlando, Florida, is currently serving time at a facility in Florida. He faces additional charges on separate fraud and money laundering charges his legal team says is tied to the case in Illinois.

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