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United States v. Giraudo

2018 WL 2197703 (2018)

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United States v. Giraudo

United States District Court for the Northern District of California

2018 WL 2197703 (2018)

Facts

Joseph Giraudo and Kevin Cullinane (defendants) were involved in a bid-rigging conspiracy related to foreclosure auctions in California. The conspirators formed a partnership in which certain members would agree to refrain from bidding on foreclosed properties, allowing the members who did bid to purchase the properties at lower prices. Giraudo was in charge of the conspiracy, determining who could join the partnership, resolving disputes that arose, and giving directions to the other members. Cullinane managed real estate purchased by the members. The United States government (plaintiff) estimated that the partnership made profits exceeding $36 million. Giraudo and Cullinane pleaded guilty to criminal violations of § 1 of the Sherman Act. The government applied the United States Sentencing Guidelines (the guidelines) and proposed that Giraudo’s offense level was 18 and that Cullinane’s offense level was 17. Though the base offense level for violations of the Sherman Act was 12, the government applied three sentence enhancements provided by § 2R1.1 of the guidelines, increasing the sentences by one level for bid rigging, four levels for the volume of commerce involved in the conspiracy, and three and four levels for Cullinane and Giraudo, respectively, for their roles in the conspiracy. The government also reduced the offense levels by three levels because Giraudo and Cullinane pleaded guilty. Giraudo and Cullinane objected, arguing that the sentencing enhancements should not have been applied, and that their offense levels should have been nine.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Breyer, J.)

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