Thursday, February 20, 2020

Why Roger Stone's sentence recommendation should never have been amended

The President asked the DOJ, through a tweet, to adjust his friend, Roger Stone's, sentence recommendation.  The DOJ complied. The original recommendation by the Assistant U.S. Attorneys was spot explains why.
For those readers not familiar with the sentencing guidelines, the guidelines work by assigning a numerical base level to the underlying offense and then adding to or subtracting from that number based on a variety of different factors. In its initial brief, the government concluded that Stone’s total offense level is 29 and that his criminal history category is I, yielding a sentencing range of seven to nine years under the advisory sentencing guidelines.
The government reached this conclusion using a calculation that runs as follows. Under the guidelines, the base offense level for “Obstruction of Justice” (counts 1-7, combined) is 14. Pursuant to the guidelines, eight levels are added because the offense “involved causing or threatening to cause physical injury to a person, or property damage, in order to obstruct the administration of justice.” The sentencing memorandum recounts Stone’s threats, in writing, to keep his longtime associate Randy Credico from testifying truthfully to Congress. The prosecutors contend that although Stone might argue that he did not have a serious plan to harm Credico, Credico testified that the threats concerned him. Regardless, the memorandum emphasizes, the threat itself––not the likelihood of Stone’s carrying out the threat––triggers the enhancement under the guidelines.
In addition, the prosecutors add three levels to Stone’s offense level because the offense “resulted in substantial interference with the administration of justice”: the House Intelligence Committee did not receive important documents and testimony because of Stone’s conduct. And two more levels get added because the offense was otherwise “extensive in scope, planning, or preparation”: Stone engaged in a multi-year scheme that involved making false statements in sworn testimony, concealing important document evidence, lying in written submissions to Congress, and engaging in a “relentless and elaborate campaign” to silence witnesses, the government argued.
Finally, two more levels are added because Stone “willfully obstructed or impeded, or attempted to obstruct or impede, the administration of justice with respect to the prosecution of the instant offense of conviction.” The memorandum recounts an occasion in which Stone posted an image of the presiding judge with a crosshair next to her head and a pretrial release hearing in which Stone gave testimony that was not credible. It also notes that Stone repeatedly violated the judge’s order by posting on social media about the case.
Adding the above levels together, the memorandum concludes that Stone’s total offense level is 29. Under the guidelines, the prosecutors argue, this should translate into a sentence of seven to nine years. also explains in detail why defense attorney's will be taking advantage at the DOJ change in the Roger Stone case.
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