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U.S. v. STEVENSON

July 6, 2004.

U.S.
v.
PATRICIA STEVENSON.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CYNTHIA RUFE, District Judge

MEMORANDUM

On January 9, 2003, a Grand Jury indicted Defendant Patricia Stevenson on one count of bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344 and three counts of money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957. A Bench Warrant issued for her arrest that same day. On March 6, 2003, Stevenson was arraigned before Magistrate Judge Linda K. Caracappa, who appointed counsel from the Defender Association of Philadelphia, Federal Court Division. Stevenson entered a plea of not guilty on all counts of the indictment. Trial was scheduled for April 15, 2003. Stevenson filed unopposed motions for a continuance of trial on March 12, 2003; May 1, 2003; and August 4, 2003, all of which the Court granted, ultimately scheduling trial for January 7, 2004.

On January 7, 2004, Stevenson pleaded guilty to all charges in the indictment. The Court conducted a full guilty plea colloquy with Stevenson.*fn1 Stevenson offered her guilty plea knowingly, voluntarily and in conformity with the law.*fn2 The Court accepted the guilty plea and ordered preparation of a presentence report.*fn3

  On June 16, 2004, the Court held a sentencing hearing where it adopted the facts as presented in the presentence report, subject to certain revisions. The Court sentenced Stevenson to a term of imprisonment of forty-five (45) months, twenty-four (24) months of that sentence to run concurrently with the five-to-ten (5-10) year sentence imposed by the Chester County Court of Common Pleas for solicitation to commit homicide (docket no. 1806-01).*fn4 The Court ordered $331,634.10 in restitution to Capital Specialty Mushroom, Inc.,*fn5 and a $400 special assessment.

  The Court ordered four years of supervised release subject to standard conditions, as well as the following special conditions: providing her probation officer access to any personal or business-related financial information; a prohibition against incurring new credit card charges or opening additional lines of credit without her probation officer's approval; no contact with the victim in this matter (Capital Specialty Mushroom, Inc.); and participation in mental health treatment.

  On June 21, 2004, Stevenson filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Court writes this Memorandum in support of its sentence pursuant to Local Appellate Rule 3.1.*fn6

  SENTENCING CALCULATION

  It is undisputed that the 1998 edition of the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines ("USSG") applies to this case. Count One (bank fraud, 18 U.S.C. § 1344) and Counts Two through Four (money laundering, 18 U.S.C. § 1957) are grouped together pursuant to USSG § 3D1.2(d) because the offense is determined by the measure of the aggregate harm. It is undisputed that the Guideline governing bank fraud determines the offense level in this case.*fn7

  For a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, USSG § 2F1.1(a) calls for a base offense level of six (6). Pursuant to USSG § 2F1.1(b)(1)(I)-(J), eight (8) levels are added because the loss amount was more than $200,000 but less than $350,000.*fn8 Pursuant to USSG § 2F1.1(b)(2)(A), two (2) levels are added because the offense involved more than minimal planning. Pursuant to USSG § 3B1.3, two (2) levels are added because Stevenson abused a position of trust (bookkeeper) that involved minimal supervision and sole responsibility for the daily finances of her employer, Capital Specialty Mushroom, Inc. In light of the foregoing, it is uncontested that Stevenson's adjusted offense level (subtotal) is eighteen (18). With the Government's consent to the application of USSG § 3E1.1(a), the offense level is reduced by two (2) for acceptance of responsibility. Accordingly, Stevenson's total offense level is sixteen (16).

  Stevenson's criminal history score is ten (10). At the time of the instant offense, Stevenson was on probation for arrests of October 17, 1992 and April 5, 1993. Thus, pursuant to USSG § 4A1.1(d), two (2) points are added, bringing her total criminal history score to twelve (12). For criminal history points of 10, 11 or 12, the sentencing table at USSG Chapter 5, Part A, establishes a criminal history category of V. With an offense level of 16 and criminal history score of 10, the sentencing table provides a Guideline range for imprisonment of forty-one (41) to fifty-one (51) months. Stevenson's sentence of 45 months is in the middle of that range.

  STEVENSON'S OBJECTIONS AT SENTENCING

  Stevenson raised the following issues in her Sentencing Memorandum and at the June 16, 2004 sentencing hearing.

  A. Acceptance of Responsibility — USSG § 3E1.1

  Pursuant to USSG § 3E1.1(b), Stevenson sought a three level reduction in the offense level for accepting responsibility. Section 3E1.1, entitled "Acceptance of Responsibility," provides:
(a) Ifthe defendant clearlydemonstrates acceptance of responsibilityfor his offense, decrease the offense level by 2 levels.
(b) If the defendant qualifies for a decrease under subsection (a), the offense level determined prior to the operation of subjection (a) is level 16 or greater, and the defendant has assisted authorities in the investigation of his own misconduct by taking one or more of the following steps:
(1) timely providing complete information to the government concerning his own involvement in the offense; or
(2) timely notifying authorities of his intention to enter a plea of guilty, therebypermitting the government to avoid preparing for trial and permitting the court to allocate its resources efficiently, decrease the offense level by 1 additional level.
Stevenson argued that, by operation of subsections (a) and (b)(2), she is entitled to a three level reduction. The Government adopted the computation set forth in the presentence report, which stated that the offense level is reduced two levels pursuant to subsection (a) only. Turning to subsection ...

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