Service & Results.

nyc criminal lawyers over 30 years of experienceWe Know How To Win Cases

Spodek Law Group handles tough cases
nationwide, that demand excellence.

Get Free Consultation

Faced 5+ Years in Prison

People Vs Joseph Amico

Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.

Faced 10+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Anna Sorokin

Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.

Faced 3+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Genevieve Sabourin

Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.

Faced Potential Charges

Ghislaine Maxwell Juror

Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.

Why Choose Us

Clients can use our portal to track the status of their case, stay in touch with us, upload documents, and more.

Regardless of the type of situation you're facing, our attorneys are here to help you get quality representation.

We can setup consultations in person, over Zoom, or over the phone to help you. Bottom line, we're here to help you win your case.

Law in the Media

View All

Meet Todd Spodek


The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

Why Clients Choose Spodek Law Group

The reason is simple: clients want white glove service, and lawyers who can win. Every single client who works with the Spodek Law Group is aware that the attorney they hire could drastically change the outcome of their case. Hiring the Spodek Law Group means you’re taking your future seriously. Our lawyers handle cases nationwide, ranging from NYC to LA. Our philosophy is fair and simple: our nyc criminal lawyers only take on clients who we know will benefit from our services.

We’re selective about the clients we work with, and only take on cases we know align with our experience – and where we can make a difference. This is different from other law firms who are not invested in your success nor care about your outcome.

If you have a legal issue, call us for a consultation.
We are available 24/7, to help you with any – and all, challenges you face.

Federal Fraud Sentencing Guidelines

By Spodek Law Group | July 27, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 15, 2023)

Last Updated on: 15th October 2023, 08:47 am

Federal Fraud Sentencing Guidelines

The federal fraud sentencing guidelines are an important part of the overall federal sentencing guidelines system. They provide guidance to judges on how to determine appropriate sentences for defendants convicted of various fraud offenses in federal court. This article will provide a helpful overview of how the fraud guidelines work, some of the key factors that impact sentences under them, and their history and evolution.

Overview of the Guidelines

The United States Sentencing Commission is responsible for promulgating the federal sentencing guidelines. The guidelines provide recommended sentencing ranges based on the severity of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history. Judges use the guidelines to determine sentences, but have discretion to depart from the recommended ranges if certain factors warrant it.

The guidelines assign a base offense level to each crime, which helps assess its seriousness. For fraud offenses, the base level depends on the statutory maximum sentence – for statutes with a 20+ year maximum, the base level is 7. Then, the level is adjusted up or down based on specific factors like the amount of loss involved. Higher loss amounts lead to higher offense levels and longer recommended sentences.

After offense level is determined, the defendant’s criminal history category (I – VI) is calculated based on their past convictions. The final offense level and criminal history produce a recommended sentencing range per the Sentencing Table. For example, a level 12 and criminal history I means 10-16 months under the guidelines.

Key Factors

Some of the main factors that impact fraud sentences under the guidelines:

  • Loss amount – The greater the loss caused by the fraud, the higher the offense level. A fraud with a loss over $550,000 increases the base level by 14 points. High loss values can quickly ratchet up the guideline range.
  • Number of victims – If the offense involved 10 or more victims or was mass-marketing, the level increases by 2. If 50+ victims, it increases by 4.
  • Sophisticated means – Use of sophisticated means to commit/conceal the fraud adds 2 offense levels. Examples are offshore accounts or corporate shells.
  • Role – Aggravating role increases level. Leader/organizer of fraud scheme adds 4 levels. Manager or supervisor adds 3 levels.
  • Acceptance of responsibility – Pleading guilty early and accepting responsibility reduces offense level by 2-3 points. But it is denied if defendant obstructs justice.
  • Criminal history – More extensive criminal history increases the recommended range through higher criminal history categories. White collar criminals often have little past criminal history.

Departures and Variances

While judges must consider the guidelines in sentencing, they have discretion to “depart” from the range if certain factors warrant it. Upward or downward departures are appropriate in atypical cases where the guidelines don’t fully capture the circumstances.

Judges can also “vary” from the guidelines after calculating the range. This is based on the Supreme Court’s Booker decision in 2005 which made the guidelines “advisory” rather than mandatory. Variances do not require special justification like departures.

History and Evolution

The federal sentencing guidelines went into effect in 1987. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 created the Sentencing Commission and authorized the guidelines system. A key goal was greater uniformity in sentencing and reducing unwarranted disparities.

The fraud guidelines have evolved significantly since 1987:

  • The base offense level has increased from 6 to 7 for high statutory maximums.
  • Loss table enhancements now add up to 30 levels, up from 20 originally. The loss amounts triggering each increment have not kept pace with inflation.
  • Sophisticated means and mass-marketing enhancements were added in the 2000s.
  • The criminal history formula has increased sentences for those with past convictions.
  • Booker and its progeny have increased judicial discretion to vary from the guidelines. Some judges feel the fraud guidelines are too harsh.
  • Below-guideline sentences rose after Booker but have stabilized at around 40% of fraud cases in recent years. Average sentences have declined since pre-Booker but remain above 50% of the minimums.

Criticisms of the Guidelines

The fraud guidelines have been criticized on various grounds, including:

  • The heavy emphasis on loss amount without regard to other factors. Two defendants who cause the same loss receive the same enhancement, even if one scheme was much more sophisticated or complex.
  • Loss amount does not measure true harm to victims. A large paper loss does not always equal large actual losses.
  • The loss table is not adjusted for inflation and covers too wide a range. The enhancements for moderate loss amounts have grown harsher in real terms.
  • Lack of meaningful distinctions between different types of fraud. The guidelines treat all fraud the same way despite meaningful differences in offenses.
  • Role enhancements are applied inconsistently and often have little relation to the defendant’s actual role. They overlap too much with just punishing higher loss.
  • Criminal history formula places too much weight on older prior convictions unrelated to fraud.

Reform advocates have called for reducing emphasis on loss amount, better calibrating sentences to the harm caused, and building more nuance into the guidelines. But major structural changes have not occurred to date.


The fraud sentencing guidelines aim to provide consistency and proportionality in punishment for economic crimes. But they remain controversial and are advisory rather than mandatory after Booker. While they anchor the sentencing process, judges have more discretion to consider the individual circumstances of each case. Ongoing reform efforts may lead to changes that address some of the major criticisms of the fraud guidelines.


[1] https://www.ussc.gov/guidelines/2021-guidelines-manual/annotated-2021-chapter-2 [2] https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/research-publications/2017/20171207_Recidivism-Fraud.pdf [3] https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/news/congressional-testimony-and-reports/booker-reports/2012-booker/Part_A.pdf#page=5 [4] https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/news/congressional-testimony-and-reports/submissions/200607_RtC_Sentencing_Guidelines.pdf [5] https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/research-publications/2017/20170309_Recidivism-CH.pdf

Free Consultation


I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

~Fonder Brandon

5 Stars
It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me, and my company Qumana skincare feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything...

~A G

5 Stars
After meeting with several law firms, I chose the Spodek Law Group not only for their professionalism and experience, but for the personal attention given to me right from the initial consultation. It is important to recognize how crucial having the right legal team is when faced with potentially life altering events that impact families and the lives of loved...

~George Cherubini

Spodek Law Group

White Glove Service

We Provide Superior Service, Excellent Results, At A Level Superior To Other Criminal Defense Law Firms. Regardless Of Where Your Case Is, Nationwide, We Can Help You.
View More

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to
your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.


85 Broad St 30th Floor, New York, NY 10004


get directions

Los Angeles

611 S Catalina St Suite 222, Los Angeles, CA 90005


get directions


35-37 36th St, 2nd Floor Astoria, NY 11106


get directions


195 Montague St., 14th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201


get directions
Call Now!