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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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