Archive | loss calculation

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

The Unusual Nature of the Guidelines’ Fraud Loss Enhancements Is a Ground for Downward Variance

In an opinion written by Judge Newman, the Second Circuit today vacated the defendants’ sentences of 30 and 21 months, respectively, for food stamp fraud for the district court to consider imposing non-guideline sentences on the ground that the defendants’ Guidelines ranges were significantly increased by the loss enhancements, an unusual feature of the Guideline scheme. United States v. Algahaim, No. 15-2024(L)(2d Cir. Dec. 1 2016). The sentences here were “driven by the loss amount,” which increased the offense level from a 6-month base to levels 18 and 16 respectively. Slip op. at 9. The Court held: “Where the Commission has assigned a rather low base offense level to a crime and then increased it significantly by a loss enhancement, that combination of circumstances entitles a sentencing judge to consider a non-Guidelines sentence.” Id. at 11.

The Court acknowledged that the Commission had the authority to use loss amount …

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Categories: guideline, loss calculation, Uncategorized

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Sunday, March 4th, 2012

No Gain, Yes Pain

United States v. Hsu, No. 09-4152-cr (2d Cir. February 17, 2012) (Winter, Lynch, Carney, CJJ)

Norman Hsu, a prominent, if corrupt, political fundraiser, used the connections he made in politics to run a giant Ponzi scheme. He pled guilty to mail and wire fraud, and was convicted by a jury of campaign finance fraud. In all, the district court imposed a 292-month guideline sentence.

The main, but not only, issue on his appeal concerned an interesting sentencing issue. The district court found that the Ponzi scheme caused a loss of between $50 million and $100 million, but in doing so included earnings that the victims reinvested in the scheme – even though those earnings were invented as part of the scheme – in the intended loss. The circuit agreed that this was permissible.

Normally, in fraud cases, the guidelines measure the amount of principal the victims lost, and not the …

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Saturday, December 11th, 2010

No Gain, Yes Pain

United States v. Woolf Turk, No 09-5091-cr (2d Cir. November 30, 2010) (Katzmann, Hall CJJ, Jones, DJ)

Ivy Woolf Turk was a principal in a real estate development company. Between 2003 and 2007 she and her partner persuaded investors to lend them $27 million, primarily to renovate apartment buildings in upper Manhattan. They induced the loans by promising that the investors would hold recorded first mortgages on the buildings as collateral. This was a lie – they never recorded the mortgages, so the investors were merely unsecured creditors. At the same time, the developers obtained loans from banks, and those liens were recorded.

Eventually Woolf Turk began defaulting on the victims’ loans. The victims became suspicious and discovered that, despite Woolf Turks’ representations, their mortgages had never been recorded. In May of 2007, the investors sued; only then did they learn that, not only were their mortgages unrecorded, but that …

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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Cash and Quarry

United States v. Byors, No. 08-4811-cr (2d Cir. October 29, 2009) (Cabranes, Livingston, CJJ, Korman, DJ)

Defendant, while ostensibly raising money for a Vermont marble quarry, made material misrepresentations to his investors. He also converted substantial amounts of their money to pay for his personal expenses, including vacation homes, cars and horses. He pled guilty to multiple fraud and money laundering offenses and was sentenced to 135 months’ imprisonment. On appeal, he raised two unsuccessful challenges to his Guidelines calculations.

He first argued that the district court should have deducted from the loss calculation – about $9 million – the “legitimate business expenditures” that went into his efforts to “capitalize” the quarry business. The circuit disagreed. Under the “plain language” of Application Note 3(E) to the fraud guideline, the loss amount is only offset by any “value” that the victims receive, and not by legitimate expenditures. Byors’ expenditures conferred nothing …

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Categories: loss calculation, obstruction of justice, Uncategorized

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Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Nothing In Store

United States v. Uddin, No. 07-3121-cr (2d Cir. January 6, 2009) (Kearse, Sack, Katzmann, CJJ)

Mohammed Uddin owned a small grocery store in Manhattan, and used it to commit food stamp fraud between 2003 and 2006 by dispensing cash in exchange for food stamps. He pled guilty but admitted in his allocution only that the amount of fraud exceeded $5,000 – the jurisdictional amount. After a Fatico hearing, the district court concluded that the loss amount was $377,799, and sentenced Uddin accordingly. On appeal, Uddin challenged the loss calculation.

The District Court Proceedings

The government had been seeking a loss in excess of $1.2 million, arguing that all of Uddin’s food stamp redemptions exceeding $50 during the relevant time period were fraudulent. Uddin argued instead that the loss should be limited to $5,000, the amount he admitted in his plea.

The evidence at the Fatico hearing showed that his store …

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Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

In Search of Lost Time

United States v. Abiodun, No. 06-5335-cr (2d Cir. July 30, 2008) (Cardamone, Cabranes, Katzmann, CJJ)

Emmanuel Abiodun was one of a group of people who ran a large credit card and identity fraud scheme in which credit reports were illegally downloaded and used to obtain credit cards in the victims’ names. Abiodun himself purchased between 300 and 400 reports and, the district court found, was responsible for a loss of between $1.6 and 2.0 million.

The court also increased his offense level by six levels based on its finding that Abiodun’s conduct involved more than 250 victims. The court included in this number individuals who suffered no actual financial loss, but who spent time securing reimbursement from banks and credit card companies.

On appeal, the circuit agreed that this was appropriate. The fraud guideline defines a victim as anyone “who sustained any part of the actual loss” for which the …

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Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Hollywood Accounting

United States v. Leonard, No. 05-5523-cr (2d Cir. June 11, 2008) (Kearse, Calabresi, Katzmann, CJJ)

In this case, the court concludes that interests in film production companies were “investment contracts,” and hence securities, under federal securities law. It also holds, however, that the district court erred in treating the entire cost of the securities as the loss amount under the guidelines.


The defendants ran sales offices that peddled interests in LLC’s formed to finance the production and distribution of motion pictures. Potential investors were solicited over the phone and, if they expressed an interest, would be sent offering materials, including brochures, operating agreements, and other such documents. Investors could purchase $10,000 “units” by completing and mailing back a subscription agreement.

The defendants’ sales offices would receive a commission of around 45% for each unit sold. This was the fraud – although the offering materials indicated that a commission would …

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Saturday, June 14th, 2008

The Loan Arranger

United States v. Confredo, No. 06-3201-cr (2d Cir. June 10, 2008) (Newman, Winter, Parker, CJJ)

This case takes on the difficult question of fixing the loss amount under the sentencing guidelines when the case involves fraudulently obtained that loans have been partially repaid. It also addresses an interesting Apprendi claim.

1. The Loss Amount

Defendant Confredo and his associates coordinated the submission of more than 200 fraudulent loan applications to New York banks. The borrowers were small businesses, which paid Confredo a fee, and knew that the applications were false, in most instances because the businesses were not credit worthy. Most of the applications were cosigned by second parties with good credit, but none were secured by real collateral. In total, more than $24 million was sought, and more than $12 million was actually lent, mostly from Citibank.

At sentencing, the probation department recommended that the full $24 million be …

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Sunday, October 28th, 2007

Score: Form 1; Substance 0

United States v. Rutkoske, No. 06-4067-cr (2d Cir. October 25, 2007) (Newman, Winter, Katzmann, CJJ).

This stock fraud decision deals primarily with the timeliness of a superseding indictment.

An initial indictment not naming Rutkoske was filed on December 11, 2003; S1, the first superseder, was filed on April 6, 2004. It named Rutkoske, and described a single overt act within the five-year statute of limitations. Suspiciously, that act occurred “on or about April 9, 1999,” making the indictment timely by only about three days. After repeatedly being pressed by the defendant to pin down the details of the April 9 act, the government superseded again, in July of 2005. S2 charged Rutkoske with the same offenses as S1, but the government dropped the April 9 overt act and instead alleged two others, on April 15 and April 16, 1999. When Rutkoske moved to dismiss S2 as untimely under the five-year …

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Categories: loss calculation, relation back, statute of limitations, superseding indictment, timeliness, Uncategorized

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