How Much Jail Time Should Raj Rajaratnam Serve?

Raj Rajaratnam, the Galleon Group LLC co-founder accused of insider trading, left, arrives with his attorney, John Dowd, at federal court in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, May 10, 2011. Jurors didn't reach a verdict yesterday in their 10th day of deliberations in the insider-trading trial of Rajaratnam, after listening to a dozen wiretapped conversations, most of which were between Rajaratnam and Rajiv Goel, a former Intel Corp. executive. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images Photo: Bloomberg/2011 Bloomberg

Federal guidelines would put the convicted inside-trader in jail for a whopping 19 to 24 years. Such a sentence would far outstrip the jail time others involved in the Galleon scandal have been asked to serve: Co-defendant Danielle Chiesi, for instance, got just 30 months. And while Chiesi's criminal involvement wasn't as extensive as Rajaratnam's, his lawyers say that his crime was a victimless one. Their argument essentially boils down to, He's no Bernie Madoff! The defense has submitted a memo that considers the philosophical and moral ramifications of his crime at length:

Even though Mr. Rajaratnam made money from the tips he received, “a defendant tippee who profits from illegal trading does not engage in conduct that is as culpable as a defendant who affirmatively steals the same amount from an identifiable victim.”

Prosecutors, naturally, don't agree — they say a stiff jail sentence will be a deterrent to others tempted to take the fast track to easy cash. The decision on how long a sentence Rajaratnam should serve (and the ancillary one on how severe the nature of the crime is) will come in late September, from a federal district judge in Manhattan. Anyone with inside info on how he'll rule, call Raj. He likes knowing stuff like that.

How Serious a Crime Is Insider Trading? [Dealbook]