Bouquets and Brickbats: Prison sentence not enough

Bam! That’s the sound of the gavel-shaped brickbat we’re pounding out of frustration that swindlers Karen Guth and Joshua Yaguda could be walking out of jail in less than six years.

Superior Court Judge Jac Crawford sentenced the Estate Financial crooks this week, giving Guth 12 years and Yaguda eight. With credit for the year they’ve already served in jail — plus work and good behavior credits they could earn in prison — they may wind up serving less than half their sentences.

That’s an awfully small price to pay for defrauding innocent investors out of millions of dollars and in many cases robbing elderly people of their life savings.

The prosecution’s request for 20 years for each defendant would have been more like it, though even that would have been on the lenient side. Given the misery these two caused, the phrase “Lock them up and throw away the key” comes to mind.

And please, don’t tell us that the victims were partly to blame because they should have been suspicious about receiving a 12 percent return on investments. These investors were criminally misled into believing their money was safe; their only “crime” was being too trustworthy.

Sadly, many of the victims were elderly and ailing, making them especially vulnerable. Now, some are living in poverty, and others who are in their seventies and eighties have been forced to return to work.

So — bam! — we’re pounding the brickbat again. Judge Crawford gets one rap. Apologists for Guth and Yaguda get another; they can go peddle their “blame the victim” nonsense somewhere else — we’re not buying it.

Pro bono legal service valued

Local attorneys who offer their services pro bono — free of charge — to needy residents who could not otherwise afford legal aid are providing a huge service. The county Bar Association facilitates the process by operating a hotline — 788-2099 — that refers clients to attorneys who provide pro bono assistance.

The Board of Supervisors recently recognized that fine effort with a resolution; we’ll match that with a briefcase of well-counseled bouquets.

Cuesta does the right thing

We offer Cuesta College’s board of trustees a grade “A” bouquet for agreeing to keep disabled student services intact, at least for now. The decision was made after nearly 30 disabled students and their advocates testified about how important the services are.

Union leaders suggested the board delay making the cuts until it learns whether Cuesta will receive a $1.1 million boost in funding. The college is in line to receive the additional money because its enrollment exceeds 10,000 full-time students, though it would surprise no one if the state found a way to withhold the funding.

We should all keep an eye on how the situation plays out. In this rotten economy, more students than ever are looking to Cuesta to start their college educations or to receive job training. Withholding funds the college is entitled to receive is an automatic “F” in our book.

Jordan Hasay honored again

Runner Jordan Hasay is in fine company indeed, having been named one of the top 10 high school athletes of the decade —that’s right, the decade — by ESPN Rise Magazine.

NBA all-star and reigning MVP LeBron James topped the list. Jordan came in No. 8, outranking Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor (No. 9) and another NBA star, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (No. 10).

Jordan’s had quite a run indeed, but we have a feeling the best is yet to come.

We award her a breaking-the-tape bouquet for putting Mission Prep on the national map once again.