Katrina Fraudster Loses Bid for New Sentencing

     CHICAGO (CN) – The 7th Circuit will not resentence an Illinois woman convicted of defrauding the government of Hurricane Katrina aid money.
     Latonya Robinson and her husband, Jesse Robinson, were convicted of three counts mail fraud last February. Latonya was also convicted of lying to U.S. postal inspectors and submitting false rental receipts totaling $11,280.
     The couple had falsely claimed that they been living in Biloxi, Mississippi and had been left homeless by the storm, applying for rental and medical assistance aid from FEMA and other governmental organizations. They received $6,186 from FEMA and $13,627 from other groups.
     In fact, the Robinsons had been living in Arkansas in 2005 and were unaffected by the hurricane. They later moved to Washington Park, Illinois.
     On appeal, Latonya challenged a two-level sentence enhancement for fraudulent schemes taking advantage of disaster relief. The enhancement was introduced in 2008, two years after Latonya’s crimes.
     But in 2006 the 7th Circuit ruled that a district court must use the guidelines manual in effect on the date of sentencing and that the Ex Post Facto Clauses poses no obstacle in United States v Demaree. Latonya asked the court to overturn that decision.
     “This is not the first time we have been invited to abandon Demaree, but we have yet to be offered a compelling reason… Robinson does not offer a new argument but simply asks us to reconsider our position,” the three-judge panel wrote.
     Latonya will serve a 21-month sentence followed by three years of supervised release and pay $31,093. Jesse will serve four months followed by three years of supervision and pay $19,813.

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