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

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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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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues