Monday, May 17, 2010

Defendant Liable for Co-conspirator’s Loss, Applying Victim Enhancement to One Conspirator Did Not Create Unwarranted Disparity

U.S. v. Robinson, 2010 WL 1610582, (April 22, 2010). Robinson pled guilty to conspiring to steal and convert United States Treasury checks in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 641 and 371, arising out of a scheme led by an individual named Jeffress, who provided "checkcashers"-Robinson and other individuals-with stolen Treasury checks and fake id, and drove them to checkcashing stores.

On appeal Robinson challenged the district court's calculation of his sentencing guideline range of 27 to 33 months, as it included the number and dollar amount of checks converted by another checkcasher, with whom Robinson contended he did not conspire. The Circuit affirmed the sentence, finding that the extra loss was properly attributable under § 1B1.3 given Robinson’s implicit agreement to cash stolen checks for Jeffress, the leader of the conspiracy, such that checks cashed by other checkcashers were reasonably foreseeable and within scope and in furtherance of their joint criminal activity. Robinson and the other checkcasher knew each other, Robinson knew that the checkcasher was cashing stolen checks for Jeffress, he and the other checkcasher were in same check-cashing store at the same time on two occasions, and an inference could be drawn that they came and went to that location together driven by Jefress.

Next, the Circuit rejected Robinson’s claim that application of a multiple-victim enhancement to his sentence created an unwarranted disparity where the same enhancement was not applied to a co-defendant. It reasoned that Robinson had failed to show that he was similarly situated to his co-defendant, finding no basis for concluding that the district court viewed co-defendant’s conduct similarly to Robinson's in terms of victims, particularly because the enhancement resulted from his being responsible for the previously mentioned checkcasher’s conduct as well.

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