7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: United States of America v. Xuan Tam
Case No.: 22-2349
Officials: Sykes, Chief Judge, and Rovner and Brennan, Circuit Judges.
Focus: Money Laundering
Tam was involved in a scheme aimed at funneling illicit funds derived from Mexican drug traffickers’ narcotics deals through Chinese bank accounts. In 2017, Tam played a role in transferring approximately $1.4 million generated from narcotics sales. Consequently, he faced charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering under 18 U.S.C. 1956(h), direct money laundering as per 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business under 1960(a). Ultimately, Tam pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to commit money laundering charge. His written plea agreement acknowledged a maximum potential prison sentence of 20 years. It also outlined a projected sentencing range of 87-108 months if the minor participant reduction was not applied, or 70-87 months if the court deemed the reduction appropriate. Ultimately, the court sentenced Tam to serve 65 months in prison.
In response to Tam’s appeals, the Seventh Circuit upheld the original judgment. The appeals court rejected claims that the district court had failed to ask the necessary questions outlined in Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(i)(1)(A), that any error was not harmless, and that the court had made an error in denying a downward adjustment based on Tam’s minor involvement in the offense. The court acknowledged the specific factors that needed to be considered, clearly identified them, endorsed the government’s presented facts and their application to those factors, and ultimately determined that the downward adjustment was not justified.