United States v. Harmelech, No. 18-2169 (7th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Harmelech pled guilty to one count of mail fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1341; the government dismissed the remaining count. Harmelech, who owned and operated multiple cable installation companies, admitted to setting up about 384 DIRECTV accounts under a fraudulent scheme that involved multi-family buildings. He pocketed money that should have been paid for servicing those accounts for six years. Harmelech involved several employees in his scheme and attempted to prevent DIRECTV from discovering his scheme by instructing the building managers not to cooperate in an investigation. At sentencing, Harmelech claimed his scheme actually benefited the company by bringing in additional business. The district court adopted the government’ loss calculation and found Harmelech owed: $108,000 in account delinquencies; $39,000 in unrecovered DIRECTV receivers; and $29,600 in promotional customer credits; $166,0001 for stolen channels and $35,000 for the price DIRECTV paid for its internal investigation. The court ordered $372,600 in restitution, assessed a four-level sentencing enhancement for Harmelech’s role as the organizer and leader of an otherwise extensive fraudulent scheme U.S.S.G. 3B1.1(a), and sentenced Harmelech to 48 months’ imprisonment. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The district court’s loss calculation was concrete, specific, conservative in its results, and consistent with Seventh Circuit precedent.