Archive for November 2nd, 2012

Upward Adjustments, Downward Variances

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

The attorneys for False Prophet Ronald Weinland have made a number of filings today on his behalf. According to these documents, Ron did not come out very well in the Pre-Sentencing Report from the US Probation Office. In summary, the report puts Ron at the following levels in the sentencing guidelines:

  • Offense Level 18 based on a tax loss of between $200,000 and $400,000 ($245,176 in Weinland’s case)
  • An upward adjustment of 2 levels for “sophisticated means”, ie his Swiss bank account.
  • A two-level adjustment for Obstruction of Justice for false testimony at trial

Additionally, the prosecutors are asking for:

  • A two-level adjustment for Aggravated Role as the organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor in any criminal activity
  •  A two-level adjustment for Abuse of Position of Trust

So between the Probation Office and US Attorney’s Office, the government is asking for sentencing at Offense Level 26 for which the guidelines are for a sentence of 63 to 78 months and a fine of $12,500 to $125,000.

The defense has arguments against all the upwards adjustments.  It argues that Ron’s Swiss bank accounts were really held in trust for the church and that $290,000 that he deposited there in 2007 should not be considered his income.  Also that $95,000 spent on flying the Silent Witness around the globe should not be considered income either, all of which would lower the tax loss below $200,000 for an Offense Level of 16 with sentencing guidelines of 21 to 27 months and a fine in the range of $5,000 to $50,000.

Whichever argument prevails with Judge Reeves, so much for the rumor within PKG that Ron had settled the case.

The defense asked for a downward variance, citing other cases in which shorter sentences were imposed.  Summarized in the motion:

Weinland does not require any further deterrence. He has no prior criminal record and, as the sentencing letters reflect, has lived an exemplary life. Even with a sentence at the low end of the appropriate advisory sentencing range, he will be almost 65 years old upon release from prison. Weinland has worked to correct accounting and record keeping practices within COGPKG, and he has engaged a reputable CPA firm experienced in representing churches and nonprofits, in order to ensure that there are no tax issues in the future and all income is appropriately reported. There is no chance of recidivism.

A sentence for Ronald Weinland that is below the advisory sentencing guidelines range is “sufficient, but not greater than necessary” to accomplish the sentencing goal of general deterrence. No one who has witnessed the highly public destruction and ridicule visited upon Mr. Weinland and his family will be tempted to engage in similar conduct. The indictment in 2011 brought increased media scrutiny and public contempt and significantly damaged his reputation.

I wonder how much my little blog is considered to be “highly public”.  I’ll go along with the ridicule part, the destruction is what Ron brought upon himself. The filings provide a target-rich environment of specious arguments about which I plan to blog further.  But since I do “have a life”, it won’t be tonight as I have other plans.