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January 9, 2015

US Sentencing Commission proposes (modest but significant) changes to the fraud guidelines

Download (1)As reported in this official news release, the "United States Sentencing Commission voted today to publish proposed guideline amendments, including revisions to the sentencing guideline governing fraud." Here are the basics from the release:

The bipartisan Commission voted to seek comment on a proposed amendment to revise guideline §2B1.1 governing fraud offenses by clarifying the definition of “intended loss,” which contributes to the degree of punishment, and the enhancement for the use of sophisticated means in a fraud offense. The proposed amendment also revises the guideline to better consider the degree of harm to victims, rather than just the number of victims, and includes a modified, simpler approach to “fraud on the market” offenses which involve manipulation of the value of stocks.

The proposed revisions to the fraud guidelines come after a multi-year study, which included a detailed examination of sentencing data, outreach to experts and stakeholders, and a September 2013 symposium at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “We have heard criticism from some judges and members of the bar that the fraud guideline may be fundamentally broken, particularly for fraud on the market cases,” said Judge Patti B. Saris, Chair of the Commission. “Based on our extensive examination of data, we have not seen a basis for finding the guideline to be broken for most forms of fraud, like identity theft, mortgage fraud, or healthcare fraud, but this review has helped us to identify some problem areas where changes may be necessary.”...

Consistent with the Commission’s mission to make the guidelines more efficient and more effective, the Commission also voted today to clarify the provisions allowing for sentence reductions for offenders with mitigating roles in the offense and the provisions governing jointly undertaken criminal activity.  The Commission similarly proposed adjusting the tables based on amounts of money for inflation in an attempt to keep the guidelines current and follow the approach generally mandated by statute for most civil monetary penalties....

The proposed amendments and issues for comment will be subject to a public comment period running through March 18. A public hearing on the proposed amendments will be scheduled in Washington, D.C., on March 12. More information about these hearings, as well as a data presentation on today’s proposed fraud amendment and other relevant data, will be available on the Commission’s web site at www.ussc.gov.

Here are links to new materials already posted on the USSC website this afternoon:

As the title of this post indicates, these new proposed amendments strike me as relatively modest but still quite significant. Most notably, the white-collar defense bar is likely to be very interested in what these changes signal and suggest, and any federal fraud defendants currently serving very long guideline sentences may want to start thinking about whether these proposed amendments might help their cause if they are formally adopted and thereafter made retroactive.

January 9, 2015 at 03:03 PM | Permalink


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As a Florida foreclosure defense attorney, my below post to friends and other attorneys expresses what most American Citizens and foreclosure defense attorneys feel about the proposed changes to the Fraud (inclusive of Mortgage Fraud) -- "so-called" White-Collar Crime Sentencing Guidelines. Keep in mind that the Mortgage Fraud "victims" do not only include investors -- but rather all property owners (including the families who homes have been illegally foreclosed -- many of whom are now HOMELESS), as well as the Mortgage Fraud impact to the American economy (The Great Recession), loss of jobs and income, PENSIONS, devastation to and deterioration of our communities, towns and cities throughout the country, the jettisoning of our Official Land Records through illegal documentation by Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS), and day-to-day erosion of citizens "due process rights" as the COURTS are pushed by our Professional Politicians and literally told that their (the Judges) "political credibility hangs in the balance" unless they (the Judges) bend over backwards on behalf of the Financial Industry, (inclusive of Fannie and Freddie) in order to "Rocket Docket" the fraudulent foreclosures. (SEE Spring 2014 Issue of The Docket Call, article entitled: Progress in Clearing Out the Foreclosure Backlog CLICK HERE New Tab ....

QUESTION: Will the proposed banking fraud Guidelines include low sentencing for all the Financial Industry money laundering for drug cartels, gun runners and terrorists -- all well reported and investigated -- yet mere fines and sanctions imposed, while prosecutions are DEFERRED! The Financial Industry's rampant Mortgage Fraud and Money Laundering has devastated our country and, indeed, even the world. As you watch the terorism news coming out of Paris and other parts of the world (even America), consider this BNC Paraba Bank money Laundering article (and as we all know and is well reported Amercian Baks have engaged in money laundering, as well). CLICK HERE: BNP Paribas probed over $100B money-laundering scheme | New York Post

Below is the earlier referenced post to friends and fellow attorneys:


"MORTGAGE FRAUD" -- NO PROSECUTIONS; NO CONVICTIONS! This has been the mantra of millions of American Citizens/VOTERS, as well as of Foreclosure Defense Attorneys in Florida and throughout the nation; and the very, very few "True Servants of The People," such Elizabeth Warren, BernieSanders, and (Florida's own) Alan Grayson...Yet there are still virtually no prosecutions and no convictions. Well, here is a HUGE HEADS UP! Apparently the attorneys for big business, energy, and financial industry have their lawyers pushing for "white-collar sentencing guideline changes." One can only speculate that Elizabeth Warren's, Bernie Sanders' and Alan Grayson's continued "shout-outs" are causing enough concern that White-Collar Lawyers are already working towards setting the stage to "allow" some prosecutions and even some convictions -- AS LONG AS "THEIR GUYS" DO NOT HAVE TO SPEND TOO MUCH TIME IN THE FEDERAL PRISONS. In other words, they realize there may have to be a few Public Relations sacrifices (to quell the masses). But in the meantime, the evil-doers' lawyers are making sure that the Federal WHITE-COLLAR Sentencing Guidelines will be changed BEFORE any "sacrificial prosecutions and convictions" are allowed to occur! READ THE JANUARY 12, 2015 Reuters report. Note the third to last paragraph, which specifically mentions "MORTGAGE FRUAD" (and really.."That's what its all about!").' "

In conclusion, "we" strongly urge the U. S. Sentencing Commission to NOT change the Fraud (White-Collar Sentencing Guidelines -- especially those crimes related to Financial Industry Mortgage Fraud and Money Laundering. As Sen. Elizabeth Warren has recently well-expressed: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !"

Ann S. Pellegrino, Esq. (Florida)

Posted by: Ann S. Pellegrino, Esq. | Jan 14, 2015 4:26:50 AM

Personal knowledge of the sentencing outcome of a family member compels me to say the harshest sentencing often goes to those lower in the corporate structure who do not have legal defense cost coverage and who are targeted when colleagues are urged to reduce their own prison time if willing to give evidence against others. The individual I judged to be a victim of this system served 7 full years. He was further impacted because he pleaded not guilty and made the work of the judiciary more complex. The truth was that he was NOT guilty but was never found to have gained anything in his actions. He was, perhaps, used to distance others in their intended and deliberate purpose and goals. This individual had promptly objected and soon left the employ of the perpetrators to distance himself from the practices. He then had to face a long trial, lose the new employment opportunity and serve a severe and unjust prison time unequal with those higher up who drag out their defense and have attorneys who find them the best deals.

Posted by: Mrs. Chas. Brower | Jan 19, 2015 4:39:38 PM

Please advise my father Larry Hill jr is in prison on a income tax fraud case.His prison # is 24346-056 hes now in butner nc (federal).His case is out of the eastern district of nc.He received 100 months and a 4million dollar plus fine.Is there anything in progress that mite help him get home sooner or is there anything he or i can do to help him get released.We will pay for your consulting or whatever is needed.I think he was convicted for consperecy to defraud the government and filing a false tax return.Hes. really awesome guy that needs immediate help anyway he can get.Please email a responce to hillboy3636@yahoo.com.My father sentencing judge was judge Britt out of raliegh nc.Our family is really suffring without our bread winning.

Posted by: Larry Hill 111 | Feb 18, 2015 11:31:08 PM

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