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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Tom Coughlin, the former Wal-Mart executive who was sentenced to home detention in a fraud case, must be sentenced again, an appeals court ruled yesterday.
Prosecutors had argued U.S. District Judge Robert T. Dawson let Coughlin off too light. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, saying the sentence of 27 months of home detention and 33 months of additional probation was too lenient.
"Perhaps Coughlin's family ties and station in the community, as well as his lofty corporate position of trust and power, exacerbate the nature of his crimes, especially for Coughlin's victims: Wal-Mart, and more generally, American businesses," the court wrote in a split decision.
Coughlin, a 28-year Wal-Mart veteran who rose to the company's No. 2 job, retired in January 2005. Months later, the company accused him of using Wal-Mart money and gift cards to pay for about $500,000 in personal items.
Coughlin pleaded guilty to five counts of wire fraud and one count of filing false tax returns in January 2006.
Separately, Wal-Mart is trying to break a $12 million and $15 million retirement pact with Coughlin, saying it wouldn't have agreed to it if it knew about his activities.