Birmingham attorney John Michael Barclay's client faced the prospect of nearly 6 years in prison, but the defense lawyer was able persuade the court to reduce the term to 6 months and supervised release after weeks of long days and late nights preparing evidence for the sentence hearing.
Barclay represented Gerald R. Shepard, a former Serra Nissan sales manager who pleaded guilty to charges of falsifying documents to qualify customers for car loans.
Shepard plead guilty in U.S. District Court on Jan. 23. During sentencing on Dec. 3, Shepard received six months in prison and one year of home detention. Judge Madeline Haikala also ordered him to pay $127,113 in restitution jointly with other co-defendants. As part of sentencing, Shepard must serve the one year of home detention during his five-year supervised release.
"The sentencing guidelines called for Mr. Shepard to serve 46-57 months in prison," Barclay said. "Given the facts of this complicated case, I think the sentence he received was extremely fair. He has apologized and has accepted responsibility. He knows this was a huge mistake. This type of wrongdoing was by no means a regular pattern in his life."
Barclay presented facts about his client's background that helped reduce the sentence. Barclay noted that Shepard had no criminal history and is a military veteran.
Barclay, who has handled the case for the past 18 months, spent hundreds of hours over the past few weeks to prepare for the sentencing.
"It is my job to make sure every mitigating factor is put before the court in a federal white-collar criminal sentencing, which requires as many hours as a lawyer is willing to dedicate," Barclay said. "Both Mr. Shepard and I worked very hard. I am very pleased with Judge Haikala's imposition of a non-guidelines sentence, in which she in essence granted the request for a variance set forth in the sentencing memorandum I filed on behalf of Mr. Shepard earlier this week."
The judge rejected the prosecutor's request to sentence Barclay's client to 26 months in prison.
A co-defendant, former sales manager Abdul Mughal, received a 30-month prison sentence. Six others charged in the fraud case were sentenced to probation and home detention.