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7th Circuit affirms Lake County official's sentence

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Robert Cantrell’s 78-month sentence for various convictions, including using his position in public office for kickbacks.

Cantrell, once a public official of North Township in Lake County, was indicted and charged with using his position to secure contracts for Addiction and Family Care Inc, a counseling company owned by an acquaintance. He would steer contracts there and received proceeds from the contracts.

He was found guilty of honest services fraud, using his position in public office to steer contracts to a third party in exchange for kickbacks, insurance fraud and filing false income taxes. On appeal, he challenged his four convictions on the honest services fraud counts on the grounds that 18 U.S.C. Section 1346 is unconstitutionally vague.

Relying on United States Supreme Court cases decided while Cantrell’s case was on appeal, including Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. __ 2010 WL 2518587 (2010), the Circuit judges found Cantrell’s arrangement with Addiction and Family Care Inc. was clearly a kickback scheme, so Section 1346 applied to him.

Cantrell also challenged District Judge Rudy Lozano’s application of U.S.S.G. Section 2C1.1, claiming that Judge Lozano applied an incorrect guideline, and that he didn’t consider Cantrell’s arguments for leniency.

In United States of America v. Robert J. Cantrell, the Circuit judges reviewed his Section 2C1.1 argument for plain error, since he didn’t object to the guideline calculations at sentencing. Not only did Cantrell steal money from North Township, he used his position to steer contracts and was compensated for them. This is a kickback scheme under Section 1346 and therefore comes within the ambit of Section 2C1.1, wrote Judge Terence Evans.

The Circuit Court also found the District judge considered Cantrell’s arguments for leniency, including Cantrell’s age. Judge Lozano explained why the sentence was appropriate in light of Cantrell’s arguments, and there’s no evidence he committed procedural error or acted unreasonably in imposing a within-guideline sentence.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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