A redditor comments:
I'm in Law School and this illustrates how bad the system is rigged to favor the wealthy, and literally nothing can be done to change it.Another adds the sort of explanation I was more familiar with:
Just as an example: The Plea Bargain - which the homeless guy most likely took.
The plea bargain is supposed to keep the court free and moving along, but what it does to the poor who can't afford a lawyer, is forcing them to plea to charges they are likely not even guilty of simply because their lawyer doesn't have the time or money to fight them (PubDef)
The AIG guy has a lawyer who will bury the ADA in paperwork. The ADA knows this, but has to get this guy in jail, but the AIG guy lawyer is good, and knows that he can drag out a trial over the next 2-4 years... the ADA doesn't want to do this... he's got fucking murders to try, so he offers the AIG [just] 4 years for a far more heinous crime... and he takes it, because no matter how well his lawyer fought, 2-4 years later, he'd be doing 20... the state just doesn't have the resources to take rich people to jail for 20 years.
I think it is more of how the laws are written, the poor guys was probably charged a federal crime for stealing from a bank. That is usually a violent crime, and as such carries a minimum amount of prison time much higher than fraud that isn't a violent crime.