By Burt Rose
The UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT has decided the appeal of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellant, v. PAUL NEGRONI and JAMES HALL, IV, Nos. 10-1050/1487, 2011 WL 1125854 (March 29, 2011). This was a Government appeal from a sentence in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Nos. 08-cr-550-4 and 08-cr-550-3) before District Judge Timothy J. Savage. The Panel was composed of Circuit Judges JORDAN, GREENAWAY, JR. and STAPLETON. Judge Jordan wrote the Opinion. Louis D. Lappen,Esq. represented the Government. Peter Goldberger, Esq., represented Negroni and Ann Flannery, Esq. represented Hall.
Negroni pled guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering and Hall pled guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. The Guidelines called for a range of 70 to 87 months imprisonment but the District Court imposed a sentence of 60 months probation, with 9 months home confinement. Judge Jordan said that the Court has not identified any case in which an appellate court upheld a probationary sentence that so significantly varied from the Guidelines range. This variance was “genuinely extraordinary” and should have been accompanied by a thorough justification of the sentence, including an explanation for any deviation from the Guidelines and explaining how the mitigating factors warranted this sentence. Because the District Court did not provide that kind of justification, the sentence was vacated and the matter was remanded to the District Court.
The Opinion states the following: “When a district court seeks to vary from the Guidelines recommendation of incarceration for persons who have committed serious white-collar crimes, it must provide a thorough and persuasive explanation for why the congressionally-approved policy of putting white-collar criminals in jail does not apply.”
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