Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson has called on authorities to investigate whether racism played a part in the sentencing of Indian American businessman Nikesh Patel.
Patel, 39, was previously sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2018 by the Northern District Court of Illinois after pleading guilty to selling $179 million worth of fraudulent loans to a Milwaukee investment firm. His sentence, however, is two and a half times longer than that of his white business partner and co-conspirator, Timothy Fisher.
According to Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Patel and Fisher were approximately equal participants in the crime as “one could not have done it with the other.”
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While Patel was given a 25-year sentence, Fisher was reportedly offered a plea deal of a maximum 10-year sentence. Fisher was also released after two years through the compassionate release program because of his asthma. Patel is currently serving time at a facility in Florida.
Patel’s parents, Ajay and Rohini, reportedly approached Jackson in October to express their concern about their son’s sentencing, which they believe was influenced by racism and discrimination.
The parents also noted that their son, like Fisher, has asthma. Although Patel also helped recover $86 million, he has not received any reduction in his prison time, according to reports.
Jackson asked the U.S. attorney’s office to consider releasing Patel to home confinement just as President Biden has reduced or pardoned nonviolent offenders.
“Here is another case where a family can be saved, and [Patel] can be a valuable asset to the community,” Jackson said in a statement. “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.”