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COA: ‘Appalling character’ of deadbeat dad merits 10-year sentence

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An Elkhart County father whose child support arrearage neared $57,000 lost his second appeal of a case that already has gone to the Indiana Supreme Court.

In Amir H. Sanjari v. State of Indiana, 20A03-1206-CR-273, the court rejected Amir Sanjari’s arguments that the charges against him constitute double jeopardy and his 10-year executed prison term represents vindictive sentencing.

“In light of the severity of Sanjari’s offenses and his appalling character, we conclude that his ten-year sentence is not inappropriate,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the unanimous panel.

The Indiana Supreme Court in 2011 ruled in Sanjari’s initial appeal that Indiana Code 35-46-1-5 permits separate Class D felony charges of nonsupport for each dependent child – Sanjari had two – but that only one charge may be enhanced to a Class C felony when the unpaid obligation exceeds $15,000.

Sanjari, who holds a doctorate in nuclear physics and at one time had been employed at the University of Notre Dame, had been sentenced to two consecutive five-year terms, and the Supreme Court remanded to the trial court for resentencing. In May, the trial court imposed a sentence of eight years for the Class C felony and two years for the Class D felony.

The COA ruled resentencing was not vindictive and that Sanjari provided no evidence to support the argument. Sanjari “points to only the numerous filings he made, including a habeas corpus petition and numerous motions for change of venue, and material from his website, some of which was highly critical of the trial court and the prosecutors and attorneys of Elkhart County. There is simply no evidence, however, that the trial court took any of Sanjari’s criticisms into account at resentencing,” Bradford wrote.

“Were we to accept Sanjari’s argument, it would open the door for future defendants to establish actual vindictiveness claims simply by being vexatious, a result we obviously cannot endorse.”

The court noted Sanjari’s “onslaught of legal proceedings” against his ex-wife that cost her nearly $100,000 in legal fees alone.

“Sanjari has a history of voluntary unemployment,” Bradford wrote, and “has shown a contempt for the law and an unwillingness to conform his behavior to social norms.

“Sanjari’s character is illustrated thorough his defiance, his abuse of the legal system in order to punish (his ex-wife), and his utter refusal to satisfy his legal obligations to his children. In light of the nature of Sanjari’s offenses and his character, a ten-year executed sentence is fully justified,” the court held.
 

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