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U.S. v. ABUHOURAN

August 9, 2004.

U.S.
v.
AKTHAM ABUHOURAN.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: LOUIS POLLAK, Senior District Judge

OPINION

Presently before the court are defendant Aktham Abuhouran's "Motion to Modify or Correct an Imposed Term of Imprisonment Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)" and the government's brief in opposition. Aktham Abuhouran (a/k/a Tony Houran) was convicted on October 29, 1996, on four counts of bank fraud, two counts of conspiracy, and one count of money laundering, for his participation in an elaborate scheme that caused the 1992 failure of the Bank of Brandywine Valley of West Chester, Pennsylvania. On August 20, 1997, this court sentenced Mr. Abuhouran to 109 months in prison, to be followed by a period of supervised release, and also to restitution and forfeiture of property. In calculating Mr. Abuhouran's sentence, the court applied the existing federal sentencing guideline for money laundering, section 2S1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("Guidelines").

Mr. Abuhouran appealed, and the Third Circuit affirmed both his conviction and his sentence. United States v. Abuhouran, 162 F.3d 230 (3d Cir. 1998). Thereafter, Mr. Abuhouran moved to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. This court denied the motion on July 12, 2001.

  On May 25, 2004, Mr. Abuhouran submitted the present motion to modify his term of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). This motion, citing Amendment 591 to the Guidelines as the basis for contesting his sentencing under U.S.S.G. § 2S1.1, is virtually identical to the motion filed on the same date by his brother and co-defendant, Hitham Abuhouran. In a separate opinion issued today, I conclude, inter alia, that Amendment 591 provides no basis for reducing Hitham Abuhouran's sentence. The logic of that opinion applies equally to Aktham Abuhouran's motion.

  Accordingly, for the reasons relative to Amendment 591 contained in the opinion on Hitham Abuhouran's case issued today, I will deny Aktham Abuhouran's motion to modify his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).

  ORDER

  For the reasons stated in the accompanying opinion, it is hereby ORDERED that defendant Aktham Abuhouran's Motion to Modify or Correct an Imposed Term of Imprisonment Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) (Docket # 491) is DENIED.

  OPINION

  Presently before the court are two separate motions, each titled "Motion to Modify or Correct an Imposed Term of Imprisonment Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)," filed by defendant Hitham Abuhouran, and the government's two submissions filed in opposition to the motions. For the reasons discussed herein, Mr. Abuhouran's motions will be denied.

  Factual and Procedural Background

  Hitham Abuhouran (a/k/a Steve Houran) pleaded guilty on September 10, 1996, to an indictment charging, inter alia, money laundering and bank fraud related to an elaborate scheme that caused the 1992 failure of the Bank of Brandywine Valley of West Chester, Pennsylvania. On August 19, 1997, this court sentenced Mr. Abuhouran to 188 months in prison, five years of supervised release, an assessment of $1350.00, restitution in the amount of $6,917,246.10, and forfeiture. In calculating Mr. Abuhouran's sentence, the court applied the existing federal sentencing guideline for money laundering, section 2S1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("Guidelines"). The court also granted the government's request for a two-level enhancement for obstruction of justice under section 3C1.1.*fn1 The enhancement was based on the false financial information Mr. Abuhouran gave in an interview with a probation officer and in a written financial statement during a presentence investigation on September 24-25, 1996. In short, Mr. Abuhouran claimed that he was without any assets of value, when in fact he controlled substantial cash and real estate assets. The court found at the sentencing hearing that Mr. Abuhouran "quite clearly failed to be even remotely truthful in his representations to the probation office about his financial situation," and concluded that his misrepresentations constituted a willful effort to circumvent the court's ability to recover a fine, restitution, or forfeiture of stolen assets.

  Mr. Abuhouran appealed, and the Third Circuit affirmed both his conviction and his sentence. United States v. Abuhouran, 161 F.3d 206 (3d Cir. 1998), cert. denied, 526 U.S. 1077 (1999). In particular, the Third Circuit found "no grounds for revisiting the district court's conclusion" on the obstruction enhancement. Abuhouran, 161 F.3d at 208 n. 1. Thereafter, Mr. Abuhouran filed a series of motions to dismiss his indictment and to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. This court denied the motions on November 26, 2002, and the Third Circuit subsequently dismissed Mr. Abuhouran's appeal. Mr. Abuhouran now submits two new motions to modify his term of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The first motion, filed March 24, 2004, cites Amendment 566 to the Guidelines as the basis for challenging the two-level enhancement he received under U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1 for obstruction of justice. In his second motion, filed May 25, 2004, Mr. Abuhouran relies on Amendment 591 to contest his sentencing under U.S.S.G. § 2S1.1, the guideline for money laundering.*fn2

  Discussion

  Although courts generally may not modify a sentence of imprisonment, 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) authorizes the reduction of a sentence "based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission . . . if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission." Where a Guideline amendment does not lower the defendant's sentencing range, however, the defendant cannot seek a modification of his sentence under section 3582(c)(2). United States v. Enigwe, 212 F. Supp.2d 420, 424 (E.D. Pa. 2002); United States v. Caldwell, 155 F. Supp.2d 292, 294 (E.D. Pa. 2001). A review of Amendment 566 and Amendment 591 ...


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