Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Corbett

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

April 17, 2019

TANGANICA CORBETT, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the United States District Court No. 6:18-cr-00035-GAP-GJK-1 for the Middle District of Florida

          Before WILLIAM PRYOR and NEWSOM, Circuit Judges, and VRATIL, [*] District Judge.


         This appeal requires us to review two sentencing enhancements for plain error and to reverse one of them. After Tanganica Corbett pleaded guilty to participation in an identity-fraud conspiracy, the district court enhanced her offense level under the Sentencing Guidelines two levels for an offense involving ten or more victims and ten levels for an offense that caused a loss that exceeds $150, 000 but does not exceed $250, 000. See United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 2B1.1(b)(1)(F), (b)(2)(A)(i) (Nov. 2016). Corbett objected to each enhancement in the district court, but on different grounds from her arguments on appeal, so we review each issue for plain error only. We agree with Corbett that the district court committed plain error in its application of the ten-or-more-victims enhancement because, contrary to our precedent, United States v. Hall, 704 F.3d 1317 (11th Cir. 2013), the district court counted as a victim any individual whose means of identification was stolen regardless of whether it was "used" as a means of identification. See U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1 cmt. n.4(E). But Corbett identifies no plain error in the application of the loss-amount enhancement. We vacate Corbett's sentence and remand with instructions for resentencing.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Tanganica Corbett and Kevin Weaver II worked at Florida Hospital near Orlando, Florida. From July 2012 to July 2013, Weaver held the position of release-of-information specialist. During that time, Weaver downloaded patients' "face sheets"-profiles that include a patient's name, health information, date of birth, Social Security number, and insurance details-without the authority to do so. He then sold them to an unidentified co-conspirator who, the government believed, intended to use the information to open credit-card accounts and to commit other forms of identity fraud.

         In July 2013, Corbett took over Weaver's position as release-of-information specialist. He solicited her to obtain face sheets without authority and to pass them on to him. She complied. In March 2014, Weaver paid her about $150 to $200 for her assistance.

         A grand jury charged Corbett and Weaver with conspiracy to obtain and disclose individually identifiable health information for commercial advantage, personal gain, or malicious harm. See 42 U.S.C. § 1320d-6(a)(2)-(3), (b)(3); 18 U.S.C. § 371. The indictment also charged each defendant with two substantive counts of obtaining and disclosing such information. Both defendants pleaded guilty.

         Using the 2016 edition of the Sentencing Guidelines Manual, the probation officer assigned Corbett a total offense level of 22 based on a base offense level of 6 and four enhancements, two of which Corbett objects to in this appeal. See U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(a)(2) (prescribing the base offense level). First, the probation officer found that "the defendants," collectively, "unlawfully accessed more than 1, 700 means of identification," so the probation officer applied the two-level enhancement for an offense that "involved 10 or more victims." Id. § 2B1.1(b)(2)(A)(i). Second, the probation officer found that Florida Hospital incurred a loss of $232, 068.64 in "costs associated with identifying and notifying patients whose individually identifiable health information was viewed without authorization," so the probation officer applied the ten-level enhancement for a loss amount exceeding $150, 000 but not exceeding $250, 000. See id. § 2B1.1(b)(1)(F). Combining Corbett's total offense level of 22 with a criminal-history category of I based on zero criminal-history points, the probation officer calculated an applicable sentencing range of 41 to 51 months of imprisonment. But the probation officer recommended a variant sentence of 24 months based on Corbett's lack of criminal history and her family responsibilities.

         Among other timely objections to the probation officer's Guidelines calculations, Corbett objected to the probation officer's calculation of the loss amount on the ground that it did not limit her relevant conduct as required by section 1B1.3 of the Guidelines. Corbett also objected to the probation officer's failure to apply a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility. See id. § 3E1.1. But, apart from a stray, unexplained reference in her sentencing brief, Corbett expressed no objection to the ten-or-more-victims enhancement before the sentencing hearing.

         At the sentencing hearing, Corbett confirmed that she had "no objections to the facts" in the presentence investigation report, but she presented her "legal objections" to the probation officer's calculations under the Guidelines, including her objections to the loss amount and the ten-or-more-victims enhancement. With respect to the loss amount, Corbett did not press her relevant-conduct argument based on section 1B1.3 but instead argued that Florida Hospital's expenses should have been excluded as "costs incurred by victims primarily to aid the government in[] the prosecution and criminal investigation of an offense." Id. § 2B1.1 cmt. n.3(D)(ii). The district court replied, "Well, I think more appropriately it was the cost they had to expend to deal with this enormous problem that your client helped create. So that objection's overruled." With respect to the ten-or-more-victims enhancement, Corbett argued that, although 1, 700 people had had their information compromised, the government had identified only a handful of people, at most, who had suffered any identifiable financial harm as a result of the conspiracy. The district court overruled that objection, stating, "I think there are a lot more than 10 victims. I think anybody's information who was stolen is a victim." But the district court agreed with Corbett that the acceptance-of-responsibility reduction was warranted, resulting in a total offense level of 19 and a sentencing range of 30 to 37 months.

         The district court sentenced Corbett to three concurrent terms of 12 months and one day of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. The district court said that the severity of the offense-"by far the worst" identity-theft case it had ever seen-was "a major aggravating factor." But it found "significant mitigating factors" in that Corbett "up until this event had been a productive person with no criminal conduct," was "clearly less culpable than . . . Weaver," may not have fully understood "that she was doing wrong," was "remorseful," and had "cooperated with the Government." The district court remarked favorably that Corbett had "maintained employment notwithstanding these difficulties," recognized her "family obligations," and deemed her unlikely to reoffend. The district court also took note that Corbett's financial gain was "minuscule." Observing that the probation officer had recommended a variant sentence of 24 months before the acceptance-of-responsibility adjustment had been applied, the district court reasoned, "based on that, the probation officer's recommendation under [the district court's] calculation of the guideline score would be probably closer to 12 to 18 months." The district court stated that, "[u]nder normal circumstances," it might "find probation to be appropriate . . . based on these significant mitigating factors," but that, "[u]nfortunately, that mitigation [was] outweighed by the seriousness of this offense." Corbett maintained her objections to the loss amount and to the ten-or-more-victims enhancement.


         We review Corbett's sentence "under an abuse-of-discretion standard." Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 51 (2007). Corbett does not challenge the substantive reasonableness of her sentence, so we will not vacate the sentence unless the district court committed "significant procedural error, such as . . . improperly calculating[] the Guidelines range." Id. "We review a district court's interpretation of the Sentencing Guidelines de novo, and the determination of the amount of loss involved in the offense for clear error." United States v. Maxwell, 579 F.3d 1282, 1305 (11th Cir. 2009). "When a defendant challenges one of the factual bases of his sentence, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.