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United States v. Saani

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

July 17, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE
v.
TIJANI AHMED SAANI, APPELLANT

Argued, December 11, 2014

Page 45

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. (No. 1:08-cr-00147-1).

Beverly G. Dyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. With her on the briefs was A.J. Kramer, Federal Public Defender. Tony Axam Jr., Assistant Federal Public Defender, entered an appearance.

William A. Glaser, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued the cause for appellee. On the brief was Kevin R. Gingras, Attorney. Sangita K. Rao, Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Assistant U.S. Attorney, entered appearances.

Before: ROGERS, Circuit Judge, and SENTELLE and RANDOLPH, Senior Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 46

Sentelle, Senior Circuit Judge :

Appellant Tijani Saani was charged with under-reporting income on his tax returns. He pled guilty to five counts of filing a false tax return and was given an above-guidelines sentence of 110 months in prison. Saani appealed, arguing that the district court's sentence was impermissibly influenced by his refusal to reveal the source of his unreported income. In United States v. Saani, 650 F.3d 761, 397 U.S.App.D.C. 77 (D.C. Cir. 2011), we vacated Saani's sentence and remanded to the sentencing court so the court could explain whether Saani's sentence was infected by an arguably improper consideration, i.e., his failure to reveal the source of his unreported income. Upon remand the district court again sentenced Saani to 110 months imprisonment, stating that its initial sentencing of Saani had nothing to do with his refusal to discuss the source of his unreported funds. Saani again appeals his sentence. This time we affirm.

Background

The facts of this case are thoroughly set forth in our previous opinion in this matter, United States v. Saani, 650 F.3d at 763-65 (" Saani I " ). We will reiterate only those facts necessary for clarity of our disposition. Appellant Tijani Ahmed Saani was a contract specialist for the U.S. Air Force in Kuwait, overseeing million-dollar procurement actions. A government investigation revealed that from 2003 through 2006 Saani spent approximately $2.4 million more than he received from known sources of income. Subsequently, the government indicted Saani on five counts of filing a false tax return, one count for each return filed in the five tax years 2003 through 2007. The indictment did not contain any allegation pertaining to the source of the unreported monies in Saani's various accounts. One day before his pretrial conference, Saani pled guilty to all five counts without having entered into a plea agreement. At his sentencing hearing, Saani requested that he be given a two-level reduction in his base offense level for acceptance of responsibility pursuant to United States Sentencing Guideline (" U.S.S.G." ) § 3E1.1(a). He claimed that he should receive credit for acceptance of responsibility because his guilty plea was sufficient to satisfy all the elements of the crime charged. The government argued that Saani should not be given credit for acceptance of responsibility because he failed to cooperate with the Probation Officer by refusing to discuss any details about his general financial condition or the instrumentalities of his crimes. The district court agreed with the government, denying Saani credit for acceptance of responsibility in view of Saani's " unwillingness to be forthcoming with Probation over and above his unwillingness to be more forthcoming about his conduct." Saani I, 650 F.3d at 764. The sentencing guidelines recommended a sentence in the range of 78 to 97 months. The district court varied upward from the guidelines and sentenced Saani to 110 months in prison. Id. at 765. The court also sentenced Saani to pay the maximum statutory fine. Id.

Saani appealed his sentence, arguing that the district court erred in not giving him credit for acceptance of responsibility and in varying upward from the guidelines range. We vacated Saani's sentence and remanded for re-sentencing, stating that we were unable to determine whether " in denying Saani credit for acceptance of responsibility and varying upward from the

Page 47

Guidelines range, the court relied solely upon constitutionally permissible factors." Id. at 763. We noted that the record was " unclear as to whether an arguably improper consideration infected the district court's decisions," i.e., Saani's refusal to speak about the source of his unreported funds. Id. at 772. Upon remand, the district court sentenced Saani to the same sentence, explaining that Saani's ...


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