U.S. v. Babar
A court can enhance a sentence four levels, if the defendant was "an organizer or leader of a criminal activity that involved five or more participants," pursuant to U.S. Sentencing Guidelines §3B1.1. The government claimed that the defendant, Syed A. Babar, allegedly served as the ring leader of a multi-million dollar scheme in which he and co-conspirators sold property to fake buyers, obtained mortgages and pocketed the profits. Babar pled guilty to 14 counts and was convicted on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, false statements and conspiracy, in violation of 18 United States Code §§371, 1001, 1341 and 1343. At sentencing, Babar claimed that he should receive a reduced sentence, because he was young, he lacked a prior criminal record and he accepted responsibility. The District Court enhanced the sentence, because of Babar's leadership role. It also reduced the sentence two levels, because Babar accepted responsibility. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range was 108 to 135 months. A court sentenced Babar to 120 months in prison. Babar appealed to the 2nd Circuit. At trial, the government presented evidence that Babar allegedly recruited straw buyers and a lawyer, arranged real estate appraisals and directed a co-defendant to open a fraudulent bank account. "[T]he [presentence report]," wrote the 2nd Circuit, "indicates that Babar was involved in every phase of the conspiracy and was, if not the leader, at least a leader or organizer of the illegal activity." Because the District Court found that Babar was the leader of the conspiracy, its decision to issue Babar a longer sentence in prison than that received by his co-conspirators was not wrong. The defendant failed to establish his sentence of 120 months, which was in the middle of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range, was substantively unreasonable. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, Thompson, J. Katherine Alfieri represented the defendant, and Eric J. Glover, Susan L. Wines, Robert M. Spector and David B. Fein represented the government.