United States v. Tam, No. 22-2349 (7th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Tam participated in a scheme to launder funds from unlawful narcotics transactions by Mexican drug traffickers through bank accounts in China. In 2017, Tam participated in the transfer of around $1.4 million in narcotics proceeds. Tam was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, 18 U.S.C. 1956(h), money laundering, 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, 1960(a). He pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering. Tam’s written plea agreement acknowledged that Tam was subject to a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, projected a Guidelines range of 87-108 months’ imprisonment if the minor participant decrease was not applied, and 70-87 months if the court determined that the minor participant reduction was proper. The court imposed a sentence of 65 months’ imprisonment.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting claims that the district court failed to ask the questions required in Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(i)(1)(A), that the error was not harmless, and that the court erred in denying a downward adjustment due to Tam’s minor role in the offense. The court recognized the factors that had to be considered, identified them explicitly, endorsed the facts set forth by the government and the application of those factors, and determined that the downward adjustment was not warranted.