Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Livesay: Inadequate Explanation for sentence variance

In U.S. v. Livesay, No. 06-11303 (April 23, 2008), the Court reversed the sentence of 60 months’ probation imposed on a former controller at HealthSouth corporation, for his role in this company’s $1.4 billion fraud. The sentence reflected a downward 5K1.1 departure, based on the defendant’s substantial assistance to authorities, from the Guideline range of 78-97 months.
The Court noted that the sentencing court relied on the fact that Livesay "repudiated the conspiracy at an early time." The Court pointed out, however, that repudiation from a conspiracy is not related to substantial assistance. Hence, the sentencing court committed procedural error.
The sentencing court also committed procedural error in failing to give any explanation of its reasons for imposing a sentence of 60 months’ probation; the sentencing court failed to give any reasoning or indication of what facts justified its significant variance from the advisory Guidelines range. It also failed to discuss how its sentence would satisfy the § 3553(a) factors. This failure precluded meaningful appellate review. The district court listed the sentences received by others in the HealthSouth fraud, but did not indicate how Livesay’s culpability compared to theirs.