United States v. Laurienti

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 09-30-2013
  • Case #: 11-50294
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Senior District Judge Carr for the Court; Circuit Judges Berzon and Watford
  • Full Text Opinion

A district court properly denies an evidentiary hearing if the defendant had ample opportunity at trial and after trial to submit evidence by an affidavit, and the court does not err by applying a sentencing enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.3 for “abuse of a position of trust” when the defendant uses his special knowledge and expertise to suggest which securities to recommend.

Bryan Laurienti appealed the district court’s order sentencing him to 36 months in prison for one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and two counts of securities fraud. Specifically, Laurienti appealed the district court’s denial of his request for an evidentiary hearing, as well as the district court’s enhancement of the sentence for abuse of trust. Laurienti worked as a stock broker for Hampton Porter, which went out of business after the market’s decline. Subsequently, the government indicted several of the owners, managers, and senior brokers of the company, including Laurienti. The district court initially sentenced Laurienti to 40 months in prison, which the Ninth Circuit affirmed the conviction of but remanded for resentencing because the district court had miscalculated the restitution. Further, the panel held that United States v. Contreras required the district court to determine whether Laurienti abused a position of trust. At resentencing, the district court denied Laurienti’s request for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether he knew of 17 C.F.R. § 240.10b-5 (“Rule10b-5”) at the time of the crime. The district court resentenced Laurienti and imposed a two level enhancement for abusing trust. The panel held that the district court properly denied the evidentiary hearing request because Laurienti had ample opportunity to submit evidence showing he lacked knowledge of Rule 10b-5. Further, the panel held that Laurienti’s lack of knowledge claim was implausible because of his professional experience. In addition, the panel held that the district court did not err in applying a sentencing enhancement for abuse of trust because Laurienti had great discretion in the type of securities to recommend, and his recommendations were given a lot of deference based on his special knowledge and expertise. AFFIRMED.

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