News reports today indicate that Bravo celebrity Jen Shah was sentenced to 78 months for her role in a wire fraud that resulted in $5 million in losses.

For people unfamiliar with the federal sentencing guidelines, the base offense level for a wire fraud is enhanced by a number of levels that corresponds to the loss amount.  For a loss of more than $3.5 million but less than $9.5 million, USSG 2B1.1 instructs that 18 additional levels should be added to the base offense level.  The resulting offense level may then be further enhanced by additional characteristics of the crime including the number of victims and the the special vulnerability of victims, or additional characteristics of the offender, such as whether he or she used a special skill or abused a position of trust.  The total offense level then corresponds to a range of months which increases vertically by the prior criminal history of a defendant.

In this case, Jen Shah’s attorneys requested a significant variance down from the applicable 130 month guideline range, insisting that Ms. Shah should serve no more than 36 months, or 3 years.  To challenge Jen Shah’s recommended sentencing range, and justify such a significant variance, her lawyers presented mitigating factors pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 3553, which requires a sentencing court to consider the personal history and characteristics of the defendant, the nature and circumstances of the offense, and any other relevant factor that mitigate or reduce the defendant’s culpability.

Even though there are guidelines instructing recommended sentencing ranges for specific offenses, defendants are entitled to individualized sentencing that takes into account their personal history and circumstances, and the specific circumstances of the crime that may distinguish it from the “heartland” case. For defendants facing federal charges, it is crucial to hire a criminal defense attorney with experience in federal criminal matters, and the special skill required to assemble and present a compelling sentencing mitigation argument.

The lawyers at Stahl Gasiorowski. PC have represented hundreds of federal defendants before sentencing courts in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere. For each and every case, we delve into a client’s personal history, and the facts of the case, to present an exquisitely crafted sentencing memo that puts the client’s criminal conduct into context and establishes a reasoned and emotional basis for leniency. To contact the firm’s NJ office, call 908.301.9001 and to contact the firm’s NYC office, call 212.755.3300.