United States v. Nedelcu, No. 20-6328 (6th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Several members of the Romania-based “Alexandria Online Auction Fraud Network,” including Nedelcu, were charged with conspiracy to violate RICO, 18 U.S.C 1962(d); conspiracy to commit wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1349; and conspiracy to commit money laundering, 18 U.S.C. 1956(h). Romania extradited Nedelcu to the U.S. He pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy in exchange for the dismissal of his other charges and admitted that the government could prove certain facts beyond a reasonable doubt including that a Confidential Source would, in accordance with Nedelcu’s instructions, launder the proceeds of fraud by exchanging fraud proceeds into bitcoin to conceal the source, nature, ownership, and control of those proceeds. Nedelcu and the CS laundered approximately $5,600. The PSR concluded that two money-laundering provisions applied: U.S.S.G. 2S1.1(b)(2)(B) increases a defendant’s offense level by two “[i]f the defendant was convicted under 18 U.S.C. 1956” and section 2S1.1(b)(3), provides that, if 2S1.1(b)(2)(B) applies and the offense involved “sophisticated laundering” a further two-level increase is necessary.
With a Guidelines Range of 78-97 months’ imprisonment, the court imposed a sentence of 82 months. The Sixth Circuit affirmed. Because the factual basis for Nedelcu’s plea agreement specifically established that he committed money laundering as a predicate for his RICO conviction, the Guidelines compelled the district court to sentence him “as if” he had been convicted of money laundering.