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7th Circuit declines to second guess co-defendant credibility in firearm sentence

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Contradictory testimony given in two plea agreements presented the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Evansville Division, with the “classic choice” of whom to believe.

However, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to second guess the District Court’s decision, saying the lower court was “uniquely and well-situated to assess the credibility of these witnesses.”

The 7th Circuit affirmed Farshad Ghiassi’s 70-month sentence in United States of America v. Farshad Ghiassi, 12-3596. It found the District Court committed no error in determining Ghiassi’s offense level and the resulting sentence.

Ghiassi pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S. code 922(g)(1) after he was arrested for selling an AK-47 to an undercover federal agent. During his court appearance, he disputed his co-defendant’s claim that she had purchased eight firearms on his behalf.

The District Court postponed the decision to accept Ghiassi’s plea until it had questioned his co-defendant. Ultimately, the court believed the co-defendant that she had purchased the guns at the request of Ghiassi.

The finding that Ghiassi possessed more weapons and that he was not credible increased his offense level, bumping him into the higher sentencing range of 70 to 87 months.

Although the 7th Circuit agreed with Ghiassi that in his co-defendant’s guilty plea she admitted to lying, the court noted the District Court would have been aware of this but still found her to be credible.

Also, the 7th Circuit ruled that Ghiassi’s alternative argument that the District Court deprived him of due process by relying on the statements of his co-defendant is a non-starter. Ghiassi knew the court intended to rely on the co-defendant’s statements and he had opportunity to contest those statements.

   
 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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