United States v. Bazantes, No. 17-15721 (11th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions for conspiring to violate, and of knowingly and willfully violating, the False Statements Act. Defendants' convictions stemmed from their ownership and operation of a second-tier subcontractor on a project to construct a building for a federal agency where they submitted to the agency certified payroll forms containing false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and entries within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(3).
The court held that the payroll forms containing the false statements were made or used in a matter within the jurisdiction of the federal agency. The court also held that the false statements were material. Therefore, the district court did not err in denying the renewed motion for a judgment of acquittal on materiality grounds. However, the court held that the district court, in determining defendants' guidelines ranges, failed to properly calculate the loss caused by their crimes. In this case, the district court erroneously applied the USSG 2B1.1(b)(1)(J) enhancement based on gain even though there was no loss. Accordingly, the court vacated defendants' sentences and remanded for resentencing.