United States v. Huizar-Velazquez

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 07-02-2013
  • Case #: 11-50237
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Kleinfeld for the Court; Circuit Judge McKeown; District Judge Quist
  • Full Text Opinion

A court should apply Sentencing Guideline § 2T3.1 regulating smuggling rather than Sentencing Guideline § 2C1.1 regulating bribery when a defendant is guilty of conspiring to evade import duties.

After Arturo Huizar-Velazquez imported wire hangers without paying the proper duties, the district court sentenced him to 70 months in prison and ordered about “$3.5 million in restitution and forfeiture of $4.2 million.” When sentencing Huizar-Velazquez, the district court wrongfully applied Sentencing Guidelines § 2C1.1 instead of § 2T3.1. The district court erred by applying § 2C1.1 because Huizar-Velazquez was guilty of conspiring to evade import duties, which is properly regulated by the smuggling guidelines of § 2T3.1, whereas the bribery guidelines of § 2C1.1 more adequately regulate the bribery of public officials. The district court ordered restitution and forfeiture damages based on the amount of loss calculated using a duty rate. However, the duty rate reduced a few weeks before sentencing. The Ninth Circuit held that the district court should have applied § 2C1.1 when calculating damages and remanded the case for the district court to determine which rate applies to the wire hangers when applying the proper sentencing guideline. VACATED and REMANDED for resentencing.

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