Law: The Wrath of Maximum Bob

Wrath of "Maximum Bob" Jim Bakker's stiff punishment raises questions over sentencing

At times the proceedings looked more like a tragicomedy than a federal criminal trial. First a Government witness fainted on the stand, then the defendant suffered a hallucinatory breakdown and was carted off for psychiatric tests. Even nature played an impromptu walk-on part as Hurricane Hugo temporarily suspended the federal trial in Charlotte, N.C.

Last week, however, the soap-opera proceedings turned deadly serious for Jim Bakker. Convicted 19 days earlier of fraudulently raising $158 million in contributions from his adoring flock, the smooth-talking, scandal-plagued televangelist drew a stunning 45-year prison sentence and a $500,000 fine.

"I'm deeply sorry for the people...

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