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United States v. King

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 23, 2016

UNITED STATES,
v.
RASHIDA KING, Defendant.

SENTENCING MEMORANDUM

          ROSEMARY M. COLLYER United States District Judge.

         Rashida King entered a plea of guilty on January 14, 2016 to a one-count Information which charged her with Conspiracy to Defraud the United States with Respect to Claims, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286. Ms. King faced a sentencing range under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines of 10 to 16 months in custody and one to three years of supervised release. This Court sentenced her to a term of probation for three years with a condition of home detention from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. and location monitoring. This Memorandum Opinion explains the Court’s variance from the Sentencing Guidelines.

         I. FACTS

         A. Criminal Charge and Sentencing

         Ms. King participated in a conspiracy involving more than 130 individuals that filed hundreds of false tax returns based on false names, false addresses, false income figures, and false entitlements to over $42 million in tax refunds. The identity theft and tax fraud scheme involved several layers of coconspirators; Ms. King both typed some false tax returns and also established numerous bank accounts into which she deposited tax refunds and withdrew money for delivery to others in the upper layers of the conspiracy. Although the conspiracy continued for five or more years, Ms. King’s participation was limited to the period between May 2010 and February 2011. The parties agreed that Ms. King has a restitution obligation of $82, 939.41 to the Internal Revenue Service for false tax refunds attributable to her. The Government did not seek forfeiture.

         The base offense level for Ms. King’s crime was 6. Because the loss in this case was at least $82, 939.41, the base offense level was increased by 6 levels, to 12. See U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b)(1)(D). In addition, the offense involved ten or more victims, adding two more levels to the base offense. See U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(b)(2)(A)(i). Thus, the adjusted offense level was 14. Because Ms. King accepted responsibility early and entered a pre-trial plea (she responded to a target letter, with counsel, and negotiated a pre-indictment plea), the offense level was reduced two levels, to level 12. See U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a). Ms. King’s total criminal history score was zero, and thus her criminal history category was I. U.S.S.G. Chapter 5, Part A.

         Based on an offense level of 12 and a criminal history category of I, the Guidelines provided for a sentence of custody of 10 to 16 months, plus one to three years of supervised release. The Government sought a sentence of six months’ incarceration to be followed by a term of supervised release that would include six months’ home detention. Ms. King sought a downward departure of four levels pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5H1.6, which provides for departure where there are extraordinary family circumstances, and a sentence of home confinement[1] without incarceration.

         The Court appreciated the bases for each of these recommendations but adopted neither. Instead, the Court sentenced Ms. King to a term of probation for three years with a condition of home detention from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. with location monitoring. The Court also imposed a restitution obligation of $82, 939.41, to be shared jointly and severally with defendant Antonio Cooper, Criminal Case No. 15-152-01. Because Ms. King did not have the ability to pay, the Court waived a fine and the cost of location monitoring. The Court also imposed a $100 special assessment.

         B. Personal Background of Defendant

         Ms. King worked in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, primarily in the general health care field, for various periods between 2004 and January 2015, when she relocated to Georgia. She has a high school diploma and some college. Her jobs have always been paid on an hourly basis. In 2009, she lost her job because she had missed too many days due to a difficult pregnancy. She found herself without work for two years. During that period, she engaged in the criminal conduct at issue. Once she became employed again in 2011, she ceased her criminal conduct. However, there have continued to be long periods of time since 2011 during which Ms. King once again found herself without work. There is no evidence that she ever returned to unlawful activity.

         Ms. King is the mother of three children. Her eldest daughter is 23 years old, working on a master’s degree in Florida, and supporting herself as an executive chef. Ms. King’s 14-year-old son lives with his father in the District of Columbia. Her youngest daughter is seven years old and totally reliant on her mother. The father of the seven-year-old is married to another woman, has a separate family, and has not been involved in raising or supporting the seven-year-old.

         At the times when Ms. King was unemployed and financially indigent, she and her young daughter slept on friends’ couches, lived in shelters, or lived in a car. With Court authorization, Ms. King moved to Georgia in January 2015 to assist her elderly, ill father. Ms. King had no job in the D.C. area at that time. Her father’s health further deteriorated, and he now lives in a nursing home. After months of living in a shelter with her daughter in Georgia, Ms. King found a job and an apartment. At this time, she has established normalcy in her child’s life. Ms. King’s daughter is an honor roll student with perfect attendance, and she is a top reader.

         There is no other family member who could care for Ms. King’s young daughter if Ms. King were incarcerated. Thus, if Ms. King were incarcerated, the seven-year-old would become a ward in the Georgia foster care program. Due to these facts, Ms. King sought a downward departure due to extraordinary family circumstances under U.S.S.G. § 5H1.6 and a sentence of home confinement without incarceration.

         II. ...


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