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United States v. Williamson

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 6, 2015

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Kerajia R. Williamson, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted January 12, 2015.

Appeals from United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri - Cape Girardeau.

For United States of America (14-2518, 14-2519), Plaintiff - Appellee: Keith D. Sorrell, U.S. Attorney's Office, Cape Girardeau, MO.

For Kerajia R. Williamson (14-2518, 14-2519), Defendant - Appellant: Michael Skrien, Federal Public Defender's Office, Cape Girardeau, MO.

Kerajia R. Williamson (14-2518, 14-2519), Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Sikeston, MO.

Before LOKEN, MURPHY, and MELLOY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 398

LOKEN, Circuit Judge.

In December 2013, Kerajia Williamson pleaded guilty to participating in a counterfeiting conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § § 513(a) and 371. In March 2014, she pleaded guilty to a different counterfeiting conspiracy violation, and to a mail fraud violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. The district court[1] imposed consecutive 10month sentences for each of the three offenses. Williamson appeals the 30-month sentence, arguing that the court committed procedural error in imposing consecutive sentences, and that the sentence is substantively unreasonable. We affirm.

Williamson's guilty plea agreement and presentence report (PSR) relate that, in the first conspiracy, she printed counterfeit checks purportedly drawn on the accounts of local businesses. Two associates cashed the checks at area stores using stolen Social Security numbers Williamson obtained from her aunt. Williamson followed directions from her cousin, Martez Williams, then incarcerated for counterfeiting checks. Williamson was arrested after a warrant search of her home in April 2013 and admitted her involvement. The second conspiracy was uncovered in August 2013, after Williams was released from prison. Williams manufactured the counterfeit checks that were cashed by

Page 399

others, including Williamson. On August 22, Williamson attempted to cash a counterfeit check at a food center the day after Williams cashed another counterfeit check at that store. Williamson committed the third offense, mail fraud, by submitting false reports to her insurer and to the police that her car had been stolen from her residence and wrecked in March 2013. In fact, Williamson had loaned the car to a friend, who wrecked it. The insurance company paid $8,432.83 on Williamson's fraudulent claim.

The two cases were consolidated for sentencing. In a pre-hearing Sentencing Memorandum, the government noted that Williamson " helped plan the initial scheme and engaged in multiple frauds." It urged the district court to impose " incremental punishment for each offense," namely, three consecutive 10-month prison sentences, comparable to the sentences imposed on other members of the conspiracy. At sentencing, the district court determined that Williamson's advisory guidelines sentencing range was 8 to 14 months in prison. Williamson requested a sentence of intermittent or home confinement, noting that she had obtained steady employment, returned to school, and was looking after her daughter, and that Williams had been the " impetus" for the two check fraud conspiracies. The government again urged a 30month sentence. After hearing the parties, the district court stated to Williamson:

You know, I agree with what your lawyer is saying, it looks like you turned the corner on most of this. But what is just inexplicable and what is a very aggravating circumstance . . . is that you got caught on one of these fraud schemes, and then . . . you went back and did it again. And not only did you do it again, you were one of the leaders in this fraud, forgery thing with Wal-Mart, and then again with the other [store]. So . . . I certainly agree with ...

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