Apparently a life sentence is not enough anymore. Bernie Madoff’s 150-year sentence earlier this week seemed unthinkable- that is until Arthur Sease IV’s came along.
The former Memphis Police Department officer was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Memphis to life in prison plus 255 years for robbing drug dealers and reselling their cocaine and marijuana between November 2003 and April 2006, according to authorities. He was found guilty in February 2009.
The trend of exorbitant sentences of late has caught the interest of more than just judges.
“The issue is not in the number of years, it’s in the message,” said Lawrence Kobilinsky, a professor and chairman of Criminology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “You’ve got the public trust…I think being a police officer is different.”
Sease’s 44 counts of civil rights, narcotics, robbery and firearms offenses led to one of the most extreme sentences for civil rights and other violations that did not involve any deaths.
“We will aggressively pursue and convict those officers and agents who violate the law and the public’s trust,” said U.S. Attorney Lawrence J. Laurenzi in a prepared statement. “We have entrusted law enforcement officers with our safety and protection and we demand that they perform their duties honestly and truthfully.”
Prosecutors said that even though Sease was fired in 2005, he directed others to continue with the robberies and drug deals through 2006, according to the Associated Press.
Five other individuals — three of them former Memphis police officers — have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced in this case, though none received sentences anywhere near as harsh as Sease’s.