United States v. Villela, No. 07 Cr. 287-02 (RWS), 2007 WL 2845290 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 25, 2007)
Villela, a Brown University graduate, pled guilty to one count of tax evasion. Based on a total offense level of 12 and a criminal history category if I, the court concluded that the applicable Guidelines offense level was 12, indicating a range of imprisonment of between 10 and 16 months. The court, however, imposed a non-Guidelines sentence of 60 months probation. Why? Simply put, the Probation Department recommended that probationary sentence, and the court found that Villela had "been convicted of a non-violent crime and has no prior criminal record. Furthermore, his continued employment will aid in the collection of restitution payments to the victims of the offense."
Villela points up an argument that I have always found persuasive and that has been successful in persuading courts in this post-Booker era to impose non-Guidelines sentences on offenders convicted of non-violent, economic crimes -- to wit, the best means for making the victims whole is a non-custodial sentence. Restitution should be the court's primary concern in fraud-type cases, and non-Guidelines sentences are often the best means for achieving same (particularly for offenders who have low Guidelines offense levels -- it's a more difficult goal to achieve in large-scale frauds involving losses in the millions).