WisBar News: Federal Appeals Court Says Milwaukee Sex Trafficker Gets New Sentencing:

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  • Federal Appeals Court Says Milwaukee Sex Trafficker Gets New Sentencing

    A federal appeals court panel has asked the district court to reconsider and explain a de facto life sentence imposed on a defendant convicted for sex trafficking in Milwaukee.

    Joe Forward

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    Feb. 15, 2013 – A Milwaukee pimp who was sentenced to 360 months (30 years) in prison for sex trafficking will get a new sentencing hearing, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled.

    Defendant Sean Patrick argued that a judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin did not properly consider his previous cooperation with authorities when handing down the sentence, which was a de facto life sentence.

    In United States v. Patrick, No. 12-1789 (Feb. 14, 2013), the appeals court panel agreed with Patrick, vacated the sentence, and remanded the case for resentencing.

    In 2010, Patrick pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in state court and received a 20-year sentence for killing a rival pimp. He gave authorities information about a kidnapping and testified against another person charged on prostitution-related crimes.

    Federal prosecutors then indicted Patrick for sex trafficking, conspiracy to traffic minor and adult women for the purposes of prostitution. The court found that Patrick recruited young, vulnerable girls for prostitution and physically and emotionally abused them.

    Patrick pleaded guilty to four counts of sex​ trafficking, which carried a potential 360-month to life sentence under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. However, the government moved the court to impose a lighter sentence based on Patrick’s cooperation.

    Government prosecutors noted Patrick’s cooperation in the unresolved kidnapping, and said he gave “enlightening” information about the prostitution business. They requested a 300-month sentence to run concurrently with his state sentence for homicide.

    The sentencing judge, Hon. Rudolph Randa, did not follow the recommendation, imposing a 360-month prison term to run consecutively with the 20-year sentence. Judge Randa did not indicate why the government’s recommendation was rejected.

    “At no point in the record did the judge explain why he had chosen not to follow the government’s recommendation or why, apparently, he gave such little weight to Patrick’s cooperation,” wrote Judge Diane Wood for the three-judge panel.

    The court noted that sentencing judges must properly consider sentencing factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), and explain what influenced the sentencing decision.

    In Patrick’s case, an explanation was particularly important because Judge Randa dished out a de facto life sentence, the panel explained. The consecutive sentence puts Patrick, 36 years old at sentencing, behind bars until age 86. His life expectancy is 72.

    “Most worrisome is our inability to discern whether the court appreciated the severity of the sentence it imposed, and in particular its equivalence to the life sentence it had purportedly rejected,” wrote Judge Diane Wood, noting that a resentencing may not change the result for Patrick.