Thursday, February 03, 2005

White Collar Criminals in New York getting lesser sentences!

In this twin set of cases, we see federal Courts more open to giving relief and re-sentencing to white collar offenders

US v. Ranum

Facts: Ranum was a bank officer who made a series of loans to a promising shipping company, but lied to the bank committee about the company’s reserves. Opinion at 7. He was charged with misapplication of funds and false statements. Id. at 8. After conviction at trial, he faced a guideline range of 37-45 months in custody. Id. at 9. Before sentencing, Booker was decided.Issue(s): How does a federal court sentence a defendant after Booker?Held: "In Booker, the Supreme Court held that Blakely v. Washington applied to the federal sentencing guidelines, and that the Sixth Amendment’s jury trial guarantee prevented judges from finding facts that exposed a defendant to increased prison time. As a remedy, a different majority of the Court excised the provision of the Sentencing Reform Act that made the guidelines mandatory, 18 U.S.C. § 3553(b). The remedial majority held that district courts must still consider the guideline range, 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(4) & (5), but must also consider the other directives set forth in § 3553(a). Thus, under Booker, courts must treat the guidelines as just one of a number of sentencing factors." Id. at 1-2. "I determined that the factors set forth in § 3553(a) fell into three general categories: the nature of the offense, the history and character of the defendant, and the needs of the public and the victims of the offense. I analyzed each category and in so doing considered the specific statutory factors under § 3553(a), including the advisory guidelines." Id. at 10."In the present case, after carefully considering all of the evidence and applying all of the § 3553(a) factors, I declined to follow the guidelines and instead imposed a sentence which was sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to satisfy the purposes of sentencing." Id. at 5. "I impose[] a sentence of twelve months and one day, followed by five years of supervised release." Id. at 13.

The Ranum Court gave the white collar offender 12 months instead of the required 37-45. White collar offenders are beggining to benefit from the Booker/Fanfan ruling. It gives judges the discretion to depart from the very strict "amount of loss" guidelines, and "level of sophistication" enhancements that are routinely imposed in white collar crimes.

See also: * United States v. West, 2005 WL 180930, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1123 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 27,2005) (Sweet, J.) (in wire fraud case, where stipulated Guideline range was 57-71 months, sentencing defendant to 60 months, the statutory maximum; following Ranum (supra), in that Guidelines are only one factor to consider; notably, stating that “[n]othing in Booker appears to suggest that such fact-finding, as limited by the principles of Apprendi and its progeny, is inappropriate. Accordingly, this Court will sentence West based upon the facts admitted in connection with his plea and upon those facts found by the Court in the context of analysis under subsection 3553(a), as limited by Apprendi and Booker”)

Many white collar offenders from New York City, Connecticut and surrounding areas can benefit from these cases.

Chip Venie
(619) 235-8300

Mr. Venie maintains a criminal defense practice in San Diego, California, and Washington, D.C. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, Mr. Venie was a Staff Attorney for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. Mr. Venie has defended over 600 state criminal matters and over 130 federal criminal appeals.


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