White-collar criminals are going to find it much more difficult to avoid prison now that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has declared that a sentence of probation and house arrest for a confessed tax cheat was not “reasonable” despite his extensive charity work that included helping to build homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

But a dissenting judge complained that his colleagues were improperly engaging in a “de novo” review of the sentence instead of giving appropriate deference to the trial judge who had thoroughly explained his reasons for leniency.