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Showing posts from October, 2011

The Sentencing Enhancement Under 18 U.S.C. §3147 Authorizes Courts to Add Up to Ten Years to the Statutory Maximum.

Section 18 U.S.C. §3147(1) provides that if a person is convicted of an offense while under pretrial release, then in addition to the sentence for the underlying felony offense, the person should be sentenced to an additional term of up to 10 years. In United States v. Melvin Lewis, No. 10-4460 (3d Cir. October 18, 2011), the Third Circuit, in a case of first impression, held that §3147 has the effect of increasing the statutory maximum for an underlying offense by up to ten years, and that the sentences must be imposed consecutively.

Appellant Melvin Lewis was tried and convicted on two counts of a three count indictment. Specifically he was convicted of (1) being a felon in possession of ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1), and (2) committing an offense while on pretrial release, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 3147(1). He was acquitted of a carjacking charge.

Mr. Lewis’s sentencing range was 140 to 175 months, and he was sentenced to 138 months, 96 for the ammunition of…

Bribery Prosecution: Instruction that coercion may bear on intent not required, sentence remanded for failure to consider sentencing disparity

In U.S. v. Herman Friedman, No. 10-2235 (3d Cir., Sept. 28, 2011), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Friedman’s conviction for bribery under 18 U.S.C. § 666(a)(2), but vacated and remanded for resentencing based on procedural unreasonableness.

Friedman owned a residential apartment building with 16 rented apartments, but after a routine inspection, a building inspector issued a Notice of Violation because only 15 units were legal. Although Friedman could apply for a variance, he faced a $500 per day penalty while his application was pending. So, Friedman arranged to pay a construction code official $5000 to overlook the violation. Unfortunately for Friedman, the code official, who had been caught taking bribes in an earlier investigation, was an FBI informant.

The Court rejected several defense arguments relating to the conviction; the most significant was an issue of first impression: whether the District Court abused its discretion in rejecting Friedman’s requested proposed …

Money Laundering - Insufficient Knowledge of Intent to Conceal

United States v. Richardson, – F.3d –, 2011 WL 4430808 (3d Cir. Sept. 23, 2011). Asya Richardson was the fiancee of Alton Coles, the leader of a drug ring responsible for selling large amounts of cocaine and cocaine base in the Philadelphia area between 1998 and 2005. In the summer of 2005, the couple bought a home together. The government charged Richardson with money laundering, under 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(1), on the theory that she had participated in the purchase of the home knowing that drug money was being used and with intent to conceal that fact. The court found the evidence insufficient to support her conviction.

Although the government proved that Richardson lied about various aspects of the transaction in the mortgage materials, there was little evidence that she did so for any reason other than to hide the couple’s bad credit. There was also little evidence connecting her to Coles’s suspicious financial transactions related to the house (e.g., structuring deposits for …