United States of America v Siyam

Territorial subdivision
Type of court
Court jurisdiction
Date of opinion

After the defendant pleaded guilty, on 21 March 2008, to two counts of importing and selling raw ivory and two counts of smuggling goods into the United States, she objected to the pre-sentence investigation report (PSR).
The District Court held that:
1. The defendant was not entitled to a three-level deduction for acceptance of responsibility;
2. The pre-sentence investigation report (PSR) reasonably found that the value of the ivory exceeded USD 120,000.
3. The defendant's criminal history category substantially under-represented the seriousness of her criminal history;
4. The fact that the offense involved killing at least 24 elephants constituted a circumstance not adequately taken into consideration in determining the applicable Sentencing Guidelines range; and
5. The imposition of an upward variance was warranted.
Pursuant to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 and 18 U.S.C.§ 3553, it is the judgement of the Court that the defendant is hereby committed for a prison term of 60 months. The Court notes that this sentence is below the advisory range calculated by the Court following two upward departures. This sentence was chosen to avoid sentencing disparities.
The Court notes that it would have imposed this sentence utilizing the factors contained in§ 3553, even absent any upward departure or even if it had accepted the defendant's proposed ivory valuation. That is, the Court would have varied upward from the original advisory guideline range even if it had not departed upward or had accepted a starting range lower than the Court's ultimate conclusion. The defendant therefore is sentenced to 60 months imprisonment, which is the statutory maximum for Counts 1 and 2, violations of the Lacey Act, and a term of 60 months, which is the statutory maximum for Counts 3 and 4, smuggling. These sentences are to run concurrently.
Furthermore, the defendant is fined USD 100,000, as well as USD 400 to the United States, which is a special assessment due immediately.
The Court notes that the parties' plea agreement recommended a sentence of 30 months. Based upon the Court's review of the facts of this matter, such a sentence is simply too low. While the penalty imposed by the Court is twice that recommended in the plea agreement, the Court does not deem the penalty to be imposed harsh. Rather, the Court has determined that 60 months is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to fulfill the purposes of sentencing.
In the Court's view, the defendant's convictions present a unique set of circumstances. Bearing in mind the sentences received by those who are in some manner similarly situated, the Court determines that the above-mentioned sentence of 60 months is appropriate. The defendant's acts were more calculated than those who received lesser sentences. The defendant engaged in smuggling for at least five years. She recruited at least five individuals to assist in her operation. She learned customs laws and put in place methods to reduce her risk of being discovered by the authorities. She displayed pride in the fact that she had eluded detection for such a long period of time. Finally, she remained willfully blind to the effect her actions had on the African ecosystem.

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