U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn could have sent the men to prison. But he chose not to, despite federal guidelines that suggested he should.
"Only people without compassion" would object to the light sentences, the 95-year-old judge told Ed White of The Associated Press. "As I've been here longer. I've come to the realization that the rules are flexible — at least to me."
The case involves Detroit-area men who opened bank accounts in the name of shell businesses to move about $90 million to Yemen, their war-torn homeland. The crime was that they didn't register as a money transfer business, AP reports.
Cohn placed six people on supervised release, which is essentially probation. Three others await sentencing.
The AP reports:
[Cohn] noted that Yemen's financial system is a mess and its residents desperately need help. Defense lawyers have praised the judge for educating himself about the poorest country in the Arab world and understanding cultural traditions.