Appeals Court Limits Scope of ‘Intended Loss’ in Sentencing Guidelines


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit recently considered what type of proof is required for a sentence enhancement based on “intended loss” under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. The court held that a loss enhancement applies only to losses the defendant purposely sought to inflict, not losses the defendant merely knew would occur or possible losses the defendant may have contemplated.

To most people, that distinction would be academic. Not so for defendant Afuhia Masiu Manatau, who was convicted of identity theft and bank fraud and later challenged the sentence imposed on him in the U.S. District Court in Utah.

In 2009, a grand jury charged Manatau in a 14-count indictment, including charges of bank fraud, possession of stolen mail, possession of unauthorized access devices, possession and use of counterfeit currency, and aggravated identity theft. During his 15-month crime spree, Manatau was involved in five separate incidents, all of which led law enforcement to stashes of stolen credit cards, credit card convenience checks, and identity documents. Police also recovered counterfeit currency and notebooks into which someone had transcribed the personal information of dozens of people, including names, addresses, maiden names, parents’ names, account numbers, and personal identification numbers. Manatau opted against a trial and agreed instead to plead guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

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