by Max Brantley
Bad news for Thomas Coughlin, the big-shot Wal-Mart exec caught stealing from the company, despite a net worth in the tens of millions. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a wrist-slap given Coughlin by the trial judge in a downward departure from sentencing guidelines that should have given Coughlin some jail time, not "detention" on his ranch. The appeals court said Coughlin could have received adequate medical treatment in a federal facility, despite his argument to the contrary.
The case was remanded for resentencing. The court also said the judge was wrong to say Coughlin couldn't didn't have the ability to pay interest on his fines and restitution. In that Coughlin had a net worth of $50 million, the court sent that back for refiguring, too.
The three-judge panel split 2-1 on the issue, with one judge finding for Coughlin. It's a safe bet Coughlin will ask that the case be heard by the entire appellate court.