United States v. Wright, No. 10-2970 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
Defendants were charged with possessing and passing altered currency (18 U.S.C. 472), possessing false or fictitious items (18 U.S.C. 514(a)), and conspiring to do the same (18 U.S.C. § 371). One pled guilty, the other was acquitted of the 514 charges and convicted on the others. The district court imposed a sentence of 20 months incarceration, consistent with a presentence report calculation using a base offense level of 9 and adding an 8-level enhancement pursuant to U.S.S.G. 2B5.1(b)(1) based on a the value of the counterfeit items being between$70,000 and $120,000, the loss the defendant intended to cause. The defense argued that the guideline calls for use of the "face value of the counterfeit items," in this case, $400, the bills used by the defendants for demonstration. The Third Circuit vacated. The guideline does not reflect the nature of the offense in this case and a step-two or step-three upward departure would have been appropriate to reflect the seriousness of the offense, but the guideline does not authorize a departure based on the intended loss.