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7th Circuit reverses 2 special conditions with bank fraud conviction

October 28, 2014

The government conceded that a man convicted for using fraudulently produced credit cards should not be subjected to suspicionless searches and seizures by authorities, so the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that condition of his supervised release.

The judges also reversed another special condition: that Trevor Hinds pay a portion of his court-ordered substance abuse treatment and drug testing.

Hinds challenged those two special conditions, as well as a two-level sentencing enhancement for production or trafficking. Hinds pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use counterfeit devices, possession of forged securities, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud.
    
Hinds and four others obtained approximately 300 counterfeit credit and debit cards with their names on them, but the cards were linked to accounts held by other people. They used the cards to buy cigarettes, clothing and electronics in several states, including Indiana. They were apprehended in Clarksville in April 2013.

Because of the two-level sentence enhancement, Hinds was sentenced to three concurrent terms of 30 months. Without the enhancement, his guideline range would have been 24 to 30 months instead of 30 to 37 months.

He only objected at his sentencing to the enhancement, not the special conditions, but did challenge them on appeal.

The appeals court upheld the enhancement, finding that although the District Court had scant findings in support of the enhancement, the fact that the conspirators’ names were found on the cards supports the enhancement.

The 7th Circuit rejected the government’s claim that Hinds waived his appeal of the special conditions and vacated them. Statute allows a District Court to impose a payment condition for substance abuse treatment and drug testing, but “just because a court can do something does not mean that it should,” wrote Judge Michael Kanne. The District judge had found Hinds could not pay the interest on his restitution amount and did not order him to pay a fine based on his financial resources. The judge did not explain why she made him pay for the drug testing.

And the government conceded that the suspicionless search and seizure condition is no different than the one struck down in U.S. v. Farmer, 755 F3.d 849, 852 (7th Cir. 2014), as unlawfully broad and invasive.

The case, United States of America v. Trevor Hinds, 13-3543, has been remanded for further proceedings.
 

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