He urged that Gupta, who was born in Kolkata, India, be ordered in lieu of prison to work with the Rwandan government in rural areas to fight HIV, malaria and extreme poverty or focus on developing new initiatives in India that would address accelerating migration to India's cities. More than 400 letters written to the judge on Gupta's behalf included documents signed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Rakoff said he could not spare Gupta from prison and only order him to perform community service. "It's not a punishment. It's what he finds satisfaction doing," the judge said.
At Gupta's trial, which began in May, the government highlighted a Sept. 23, 2008, phone call it said was made from Gupta to Rajaratnam only minutes after Gupta had learned during a confidential conference call about Warren Buffett's planned investment through Berkshire Hathaway of $5 billion in Goldman.
Moments after the phone call ended at 3:55 p.m., Rajaratnam purchased $40 million in Goldman stock — an 11th hour trade that ended up making him nearly $1 million — at the height of the financial crisis that had engulfed the country.
The judge at sentencing called that phone call "the functional equivalent of stabbing Goldman in the back."
In another recorded phone call in 2008, Rajaratnam told one of his traders that he had gotten a tip "from someone who's on the board of Goldman Sachs" that Goldman was facing an unexpected quarterly loss.
Gupta, prosecutors said, was motivated to help Rajaratnam because he had a financial stake in some of the hedge fund manager's business ventures.
In his attack on federal sentencing guidelines that are meant to be advisory, Rakoff said "mechanical adding-up of a small set of numbers artificially assigned to a few arbitrarily-selected variables wars with common sense."
He added: "Whereas apples and oranges may have but a few salient qualities, human beings in their interactions with society are too complicated to be treated like commodities, and the attempt to do so can only lead to bizarre results."
Associated Press Writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.
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