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Tim Zerillo and Amy Robidas Get Variant Sentence Departure in Federal Reverse Sting Drug Case

In Federal Drug cases sentences are based, in part, on the amount of drugs trafficked.  But what if the drugs are sold to the Defendant by a Government Agent?  And what if the price of the drugs is deflated below their ordinary market value so the Defendant can buy more?

When the Government sells the Defendant drugs, it is called a "reverse sting."  Comment Note 14 to United States Sentencing Guideline Section 2D1.1 states:

If, in a reverse sting (an operation in which a government agent sells or negotiates to sell a controlled substance to a defendant) the court finds that the government agent set a price for the controlled substance that was substantially below the market value of the controlled substance, thereby leading to the defendant's purchase of a significantly greater quantity of the controlled substance than his available resources would have allowed him to purchase except for the artificially low price set by the government agent, a downward deviation may be warranted. U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1, comment (n. 14).

In our case, our Client bought a 1,000 Oxycontin 80 milligram pills.  We argued that the price set by the DEA Agent was to low, and the 1,000 pills did not reflect the Client's true purchasing power.  We established in Court that the price for this area should have been between $65 and $80 a pill for Oxycontin 80 milligram pills, and calculated that the Client's purchasing power would be 2 levels lower than his actual Guideline range suggested.

Judge D. Brock Hornby heard the sentencing, and gave our Client a departure from the Guideline range in accepting this argument.  Our Client's sentence ended up at 57 months, where his Guideline range was between 70 and 87 months.

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