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September 12, 2011

A Fifth Circuit reminder that not all federal defendants like the guidelines being merely advisory

One (of many) under-discussed aspects of the post-Booker system is that, in percentage terms, the number of above-guideline sentences have gone up more than the number of below-guideline sentences since the guidelines became adviosry.  Roughly speaking, though the number of below-guideline sentences have increased about 50% post-Booker, the number of above-guideline sentences have increased nearly 100% post-Booker.  

Though the absolute number of above-guideline sentences remain relatively small, the decision late last week from the Fifth Circuit in US v. Pizzolato, No. 10-30729 (5th Cir. Sept. 9, 2011) (available here), provides a useful reminder that not all federal defendants benefit from the guidelines now being merely advisory.  Here is how the Pizzolato opinion starts:

Defendant-Appellant Matthew B. Pizzolato pleaded guilty to multiple crimes related to his conduct in running a fraudulent “Ponzi” scheme. The plea agreement recommended an applicable sentencing range of 151 to 188 months under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (the “Guidelines”).  The district court disregarded the plea agreement’s recommendation and imposed the statutory maximum sentence of 360 months.  Appellant argues that the Government breached the plea agreement by providing the district court with facts and arguments supporting a longer sentence than the parties agreed upon.  We find no merit to defendant’s arguments and affirm.

September 12, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Permalink

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Comments

WOW! This guy sure must have made a bad impression on his sentencing Judge to go from a suggested max. Guideline of 188 months to the statutory maximum sentence of 360 months, which is surely a de facto life sentence. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Sep 12, 2011 1:36:48 PM

will teach the damn fools and their retard lawyers to EVER to agree to any plea that does not spell out EXACTLY what the sentence is to be and have it approved by the judge BEFORE official acceptance!

no specific sentence...no judge acceptance...hell take it to trial and burn thought those millions the STATE DOES NOT HAVE!

Posted by: rodsmith | Sep 13, 2011 2:59:18 AM

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