Sunday, June 3, 2012

Federal Sentencing Guidelines Conference - Fraud Panel

The recent federal sentencing guideline conference had a panel moderated by Professor Doug Berman (Ohio State) on fraud/theft - it was part two for this conference on the topic of the fraud/theft sentencing guidelines. The panelists were: Harry Chernoff (AUSA Southern District of NY); Lisa Mathewson (Law Offices of Lisa A. Mathewson); Tracy A. Miner (Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo).

Harry Chernoff emphasized his belief that who the judge is can make a difference in the sentence received in a fraud/theft case. Lisa Mathewson noted how "loss is an imperfect" statement of culpability. Tracy A. Miner suggested that one needs to "look at the motivation of the particular individual." In this regard there was discussion how a corporation may be getting a pass because of a deferred prosecution.

Looking at 2B1.1 and how to assess "gain or loss," Lisa Mathewson reminded listeners that when the loss is "0" that is a number that can and should be used. Tracy Miner noted that prosecutors are trained to increase the loss figure. In this regard it was noted that loss in some cases can end up as 360 to life, because there are so many potential aggravators. It was noted that is important to look at lack of gain as a mitigating factor that warrants a move downward.

It was noted how courts set the bar extremely low in what will be considered "sophisticated means." Tracy Miner noted that computers being used should not make the conduct sophisticated, as even kindergarten students use computers these days.

 

Some panelists noted that one needs to look at what was the real conduct and whether it being increased just because this was conduct highlighted in recent days. Tracy Miner reminded listeners to try and convince the government of the benefits of the defendant’s conduct. For example, there may be good collateral consequences such as did special education kids benefit and will there be severe consequences if the loss is placed very high.

The end of the panel discussion looked at commission considerations on the horizon and one position taken by some was that the commission should look at the whole guideline as opposed to just tweaking parts.

 (esp)

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