U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Decisions in Criminal Matters Including Proper Calculation of "Benefit Received"

In US v. Howard, No. 08-4748, the Third Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's sentence of a defendant as a career offender under U.S.S.G. section 4B1.1.  The defendant argued that the district court erred in relying on uncertified documents in concluding that his two previous drug convictions were felonies.  However, in upholding the decision, the court held that for sentencing purposes, the district court was correct to refer to uncertified documents to establish prior convictions.

In US v. Lianidis, No. 09-1165, the court dealt with defendant's challenge to the district court's sentence in imposing a 16-level increase, for a conviction including illegal bribery of a federal employee, based on its conclusion that the benefit received was between $1 and $2.5 million.  In vacating the sentence, the court held that the proper calculation for "benefit received" under U.S.S.G. section 2C1.1(b)(2) is the net value, minus direct costs, accruing to the entity on whose behalf the defendant paid the bribe.  Here, the district court erred in concluding the "benefit received" was based on defendant and her husband's salaries.

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