U.S. v. Kottage
At sentencing, the District Court can grant a defendant's request for a downward departure, as a result of the defendant's diminished mental capacity. The government charged the defendant, Steven Kottage, with participating in a mortgage fraud conspiracy that resulted in losses of more than $600,000. A grand jury convicted Kottage of one count of bank fraud and two counts of wire fraud, as well as conspiring to commit bank fraud and wire fraud. The defendant pled guilty to conspiracy counts and requested a downward departure from the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, because he suffers from bipolar disorder. A psychologist opined that the defendant is "significantly impaired" as a result of bipolar disorder, and that allegedly led to difficulty controlling his conduct. The District Court rejected the defendant's request for a downward departure, as a result of his allegedly diminished mental capacity. The defendant was sentenced to 41 months in prison, and he appealed. In U.S. v. Fernandez, a 2006 decision, the 2nd Circuit wrote, "We recognize that in the overwhelming majority of cases, a Guidelines sentence will fall comfortably within the broad range of sentences that would be reasonable in the particular circumstances." The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range for the defendant's conduct was 41 to 51 months. The 2nd Circuit was not persuaded that the defendant's 41-month sentence was substantively unreasonable. This was not an "exceptional case," in which a sentence within the sentencing guidelines range was substantively unreasonable. "In light of Kottage's central role in two mortgage fraud conspiracies that resulted in losses over $600,000," wrote the 2nd Circuit, "the District Court's sentence at the bottom of the Guidelines range was not 'shockingly high.' " The 2nd Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, Kravitz, J.