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Sentencing Enhancements

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//June 10, 2024//

Sentencing Enhancements

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//June 10, 2024//

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7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Jan Kowalski

Case No.: 23-2374

Officials: St. Eve, Kirsch, and Lee, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Sentencing Enhancements

Kowalski, an attorney, faced accusations of leveraging her position to conceal her brother’s assets during his bankruptcy proceedings. Allegedly, she hid approximately $357,000 in her attorney trust account and provided false statements under oath to obscure the concealment. Kowalski was charged with four counts of bankruptcy fraud and one count of hiding assets from the bankruptcy trustee. She pleaded guilty to the charge of asset concealment.

Before her trial, Kowalski was actively involved in her brother’s bankruptcy case, using her attorney trust account to hide his assets from creditors and the bankruptcy trustee. She also lied under oath and forged documents to cover up her actions. When the bankruptcy trustee confronted her with discrepancies between her bank records and earlier testimony, she persisted in lying under oath.

The Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, sentenced Kowalski to 37 months in prison. The court applied two sentencing enhancements: the § 2B1.1(b)(10)(C) sophisticated-means enhancement and the § 3B1.3 abuse of position of trust enhancement. Kowalski appealed, arguing that these enhancements were wrongly applied and that her sentence was substantively unreasonable.

The Seventh Circuit upheld the district court’s decision. The court determined that Kowalski had indeed used sophisticated means to commit the offense and abused her position of trust. Additionally, the court found her sentence to be substantively reasonable. The decision was affirmed.

Decided 06/06/24

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