Where the defendant’s securities fraud involved taking advantage of personal relationships with vulnerable victims, an above-guideline sentence was reasonable.
“Here the judge’s explanation was more than adequate. He found that an above-range sentence was appropriate because Schlueter conned not just vulnerable victims out of large sums of money, but because he took advantage of personal relationships to cheat them out of significant sums they needed at critical stages of their lives. His victims, an elderly couple preparing for retirement and a recent widow whom he preyed on based on his relationship with her dead husband, could not be more sympathetic. See United States v. Straw, 616 F.3d 737, 744 (8th Cir. 2010) (upholding as reasonable district court’s above-range sentence for defendant who committed fraud and forged a security because guidelines did not account for targeting victims close to retirement); United States v. Rajwani, 476 F.3d 243, 250 (5th Cir. 2007) (upholding district court’s above-range sentence where victims of defendant’s fraud had limited financial means, amount of loss represented much of victims’ life savings, and victims suffered physical manifestations of emotional harm). The court also referenced Schlueter’s degrading treatment of the elderly Mr. Waterson as a factor unaccounted for in the guidelines. See United States v. Bohanon, 290 F.3d 869, 876 (7th Cir. 2002) (upholding district court’s above-range sentence for defendant who sent humiliating and threatening letters to victims’ neighbors).”
10-2426 U.S. v. Schlueter
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, Reagan, J., Evans, J.