Maine Insurance Agent Sentenced for Killing Client

June 21, 2004

A judge has sentenced a Standish, Maine, life insurance agent convicted of killing a client so he could collect on a $100,000 life insurance policy to 62 years in jail.

Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren stopped short Thursday of sentencing Santanu “Sam” Basu, 36, to life in prison for the murder of Azita Jamshab of Westbrook, noting that he would be in his 80s before he is released.

Warren said a sentence that was more than double the minimum for murder was appropriate because Basu did not show remorse, the murder was premeditated, and Jamshab at the time of the crime knew what was happening.

A life sentence was not justified because Basu had only a minor criminal record before the murder conviction, and his crime by comparison was not as severe as those that have received life sentences, Warren said.

Basu did not react when Warren gave the 62-year sentence in Cumberland County Superior Court. Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who argued for a life sentence, said afterward that he was satisfied with Warren’s decision.

Prosecutors told jurors he sold Jamshab, a 29-year-old Iranian immigrant with no dependents, a life insurance policy two months before her death and named him as her beneficiary. He then shot her on March 6, 2002, near a gravel pit in Cumberland after she said she wanted to cancel the policy and move.

A jury convicted Basu of murder after three hours of deliberation.

The death has been hard on Jamshab’s family, which is scattered around the world. The health of her parents in Iran has declined due to grief for their daughter, said Jamshib Jamshab, the victim’s uncle, who lives in London, England, and came to Maine this week to attend the sentencing.

“Azita is gone. It has destroyed her family,” he said.

A lengthy debate over case law and sentencing standards followed the emotional testimony of Jamshab’s family and friends.

Neale Duffett, Basu’s lawyer, argued that most of the 32 crimes since 1976 in Maine that resulted in life sentences involved more than one victim, a minor or included sexual assault.

He said his client plans to appeal.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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