But Miller argues those sentencing enhancements amount to piling on.
"Given the amount of loss, only an officer or director of a large company could have likely committed such a crime, the very amount of which, if publicly traded, is almost certain to have more than 10 stockholders," she said.
Miller argues that McDonald was a naive 29-year-old when he took over the company in 2003 and was surrounded by associates and hedge fund advisers who pushed him to make money by inflating the company's worth.
"Rather than exercising the good judgment that a more experienced person may have used, Richard McDonald succumbed to the stereotypical lure of the American dream and obsession of many in today's society â¿¿ wealth, power, and recognition," Miller wrote.
Miller contends McDonald is now a God-fearing family man who operates a small business, and she has filed dozens of testimonials from family and friends to that effect.
She argues that McDonald made "many bad choices" that he didn't fully understand until he was hospitalized for a nervous breakdown "from the stress and pressure of running WHA, and from the overwhelming guilt he experience for his actions."
Sweeney disagreed in his presentence argument.
"On the contrary, the defendant was severely stressed on the day that he checked himself in at Western Psychiatric Hospital (August 15, 2005) because that is the same day that he became aware that his crimes were being discovered," Sweeney wrote.
Prior to that, McDonald was "dedicating all of his efforts to lying, cheating and stealing from his company and from everyone who invested in his company," Sweeney wrote.