South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Prison Sentence Too Light; Be Careful What You Ask For
Description

Appeals court held that the district court improperly deviated from the federal Sentencing Guidelines by imposing a sentence that was too light. The defendants appeal is rejected and the court will re-sentence the defendant in compliance with the Guidelines.

Topic Criminal Law
Key Words

Sentencing Guidelines; Tax Evasion

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Roush was convicted of income tax evasion for failure to report millions of dollars in income from the receipt of millions of shares of stock that he received from a complicated securities fraud. Given his criminal acts, under the Sentencing Guidelines he should have received a prison term of 37 to 46 months. The trial court judge imposed a term of 27 months, stating that the shorter sentence would be more fair. Roush appealed the conviction, contending various defects in the prosecution.

Decision

Remanded for re-sentencing. The conviction stands with some minor problems in calculating the total income that was not reported. However, the judge deviated from the Sentencing Guidelines. Courts may deviate from the Guidelines if they articulate fact-specific reasons to justify the deviation. This did not happen here. The judge only expressed concern with fairness for the sentence given the size of the tax evasion. There was insufficient elaboration that could substantiate a reduction in the sentence below what is required by the Guidelines. The case is remanded for re-sentencing consistent with the Guidelines.

Citation

U.S. v. Roush, ---F.3d--- (2006 WL 2806701, 5th Cir., 2006)

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