United States v. Sanya, No. 13-4937 (4th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Sanya recruited restaurant employees to steal customers’ credit card information, using a device that he provided. With the stolen information, Sanya made counterfeit credit cards, which co-conspirators used to purchase gift cards that were used to buy consumer goods. Co-conspirators returned the goods for cash. In 2012, Sanya pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit access-device fraud, was released pending sentencing, and resumed his fraud scheme. He was charged with state crimes, then transferred to federal custody; state charges were dismissed. In 2013, Sanya was indicted for access-device fraud and aggravated identity theft. Sanya’s sentencing for the 2012 plea was postponed, but the parties failed to reach agreement. The district judge expressed his strong preference that Sanya enter a plea to the second set of charges and agree to have all charges consolidated for sentencing. Days later, Sanya pleaded guilty. The charges were consolidated and the same district judge sentenced Sanya to a total of 212 months’ imprisonment. Sanya argued that the district court improperly participated in plea discussions, rendering his second plea invalid. The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded for assignment to a different judge.