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7th Circuit affirms 5-year sentence in arson-for-hire

April 4, 2014

A woman sentenced to serve five years in prison for recruiting another man to set fire to her home didn’t receive an unjust sentence even though it was three to four times longer than federal guidelines, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

The panel affirmed the sentence imposed by U.S. District Chief Judge Richard Young of the Southern District of Indiana in United States of America v. Lori Hargis, 12-2153, 12-2153.

“Because the district judge discussed factors ‘sufficiently particularized’ to Hargis’s individual circumstances and adequately justified the sentence, we find no error,” Circuit Judge Ilana Rovner wrote for the panel.

Hargis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use fire to commit wire fraud, and another charge was dropped. Hargis was accused of recruiting an old school friend to burn down her home in Henderson, Ky., that she’d been unable to sell. The record says she pledged to pay $10,000 out of proceeds from her insurance policy.

Federal guidelines called for a sentence of 15 to 21 months in prison, but Young imposed a 60-month term. He identified aggravating factors as obstruction of justice and Hargis’ role as a leader or organizer in the crime. Her acceptance of responsibility was a mitigating factor.

“Because the facts justify the district court’s decision to apply the upward adjustments, and the district judge adequately explained his rationale for imposing the 60-month sentence, we affirm the district court’s judgment,” Rover wrote.  

 

 

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