Re: My $0.02 (@JLV)
JLV, I agree that ID theft is different. My reply earlier was specific to the crime in question, and how it specifically was contrasted to robbery. That's even evident in the summary bit you quoted.
ID theft definitely can cause significant disruption to one's personal life, or even the life of a whole family. I'm directly aware, as I've been a victim of it, and my case wasn't even that severe. (It was achieved before Internet use was commonplace, via theft of items from my postal mailbox.) Doing that on a mass scale is extremely disruptive and can have a high overall societal cost.
As far as I can tell, this guy was sending mass mails on behalf of other companies, which, with caveats, does not have such a severe cost to society.
Now, if his mails directly facilitated downstream crimes, that's a compounding factor. For example, if he was spamming out phishing mails, that's a different deal, as he's then facilitating another crime with greater societal cost. He's helping make it possible, even if it doesn't materialize. That's why I mentioned before that I felt that there might be warrant for greater punishment if he'd facilitated the illegal sale of narcotics.
Yes, his compromised botnet needs to be cleaned up, and there's a real cost associated with that. That very much matters. Does it matter enough to justify his jail term being longer than that for a 7/11 robber? I don't know. It depends on how much it really costs to deal with.
Basically, we shouldn't just look at how much money he made in order to determine the severity of his crime. The same is true of the 7/11 robber. We should look at the cost to others of them getting that money, which is not likely to be the same as the amount of money itself.