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Jesse Jackson urges the US Attorney’s Office to investigate the sentencing of Indian American businessmen

Civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson is calling on a US attorney’s office to investigate whether racism and discrimination played a part in the sentencing of an Indian American investment banker convicted of selling fraudulent loans.

Nikesh Patel, 39, was sentenced by the Northern District Court of Illinois to 25 years in prison in 2018 for selling $179 million in fraudulent loans. His sentence is 2 1/2 times longer than that of his white partner and co-conspirator Timothy Fisher.

Patel’s parents, Ajay and Rohini Patel, approached Jackson last month, saying they believed racism and discrimination played a significant role in Patel’s sentencing.

According to Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, during a pre-sentence hearing, Assistant US Attorney Patrick J. King Jr. said Patel, chairman and CEO of First Farmers Financial, and Fisher, president and COO of the company, were more or less equal in the crime and that “one could not have done it with the other.”

Still, Fisher was offered a plea deal capped at 10 years, compared to Patel’s 25-year sentence. Fisher was sentenced to 10 years and was released after two through the compassionate release program because he suffered from asthma.

But the Patels say their son also has asthma, and even though he helped recover $86 million and was offered to recover even more upon his release, Patel has received no reduction in his prison time.

Jackson is urging the US attorney‘s office to consider releasing Patel on home confinement, the same way President Biden has commuted the sentences of and even 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.”

Patel, from Orlando, Fla., is currently serving time at a facility in Florida. He faces additional charges on separate fraud and money laundering charges his legal team says is tied to the case in Illinois.

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