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United States v. Rapanos

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20357
Nos. 98-2424 et al., 235 F.3d 256/(6th Cir., 12/15/2000) Sentence aff'd in part & rev'd in part

The court affirms in part and reverses in part the sentence of an individual convicted for filling wetlands in violation of the Clean Water Act. The court first holds that the two-level downward departure granted by the district court was proper. The factors relied on by the district court were adequately considered in the sentencing guidelines and included consideration of the nature of the pollutant and the risk involved. The court next holds, however, that the district court's grant of two one-level downward departures was an abuse of discretion. A fundamental disagreement with the law and an inappropriate comparison to a wholly unrelated case are not permissible factors to consider in granting downward departures not provided for by the guidelines. The court further holds that the district court erred in granting a two-level acceptance of responsibility decrease. The individual's statements and conduct before trial did not clearly demonstrate an acceptance of responsibility. The court finally holds that the district court properly refused to grant a two-level enhancement of the individual's sentence for obstruction of justice.

A prior decision in this litigation is published at 27 ELR 20961.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Jennifer J. Peregord
U.S. Attorney's Office
211 W. Fort St., Ste. 2300, Detroit MI 48226
(313) 226-9100

Counsel for Defendant
Thomas V. Wilhelm
Law Offices of Thomas V. Wilhelm
1520 N. Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills MI 48304
(248) 646-3288

Before Norris and Forester,* JJ.