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United States v. Sonovich

United States District Court, E.D. California

December 20, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KARI SONOVICH, Defendant.

          RULING ON OBJECTIONS TO PRESENTENCE REPORT

          GARLAND E. BURRELL SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant Kari Sonovich objects to the following findings in the Presentence Report (“PSR”): the loss finding in paragraph 27 that Sonovich “is held accountable for loss of $454, 000” and the finding in paragraph 28 that “[t]he offense involved approximately 13 victims.”

         The Probation officer finds in paragraph 10 of the PSR: “Based on wire transfer records of money transferred into the defendant's personal account, restitution in the amount of $454, 000 is warranted.” The Probation officer finds in paragraph 8 of the PSR: “According to a chart provided by the government, 13 victims wired $1, 443, 000 to Sonovich for investment. From the investors' deposits, Sonovich forwarded $989, 000 to SJB for investment and wired $454, 000 to 1her personal account. Sonovich is held accountable for the funds that she wired to her personal account, that is, $454, 000.” During the sentencing hearing on December 20, 2019, the probation officer was directed to files the referenced chart as an addendum to the PSR. Attached to the chart is a four page document on the loss issue.

         The United States provides further information on loss the amount in its sentencing memorandum filed on December 13, 2019, and “requests that the Court order Sonovich to pay restitution of $454, 000 to the victims of her offense, as outlined in the restitution attachment to the Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”).” U.S. Sen. Memo. at 1:23-24, ECF 92. The reference portion of the PSR recommends that at least eleven victims be found to have sustained losses and that the total restitution is $454, 000. PSR at ECF 87, page 22 of 22. Exhibits attached to the government's sentencing memorandum support these findings. As the United States asserts:

In August 2008, Sonovich convinced G.B. and D.B. to send her $100, 000 to invest with Birch. In her contract with G.B, Sonovich promised that B&B Consulting would receive 40% of only the “proceeds of the investment.” Exhibit 1 at 1 (G.B. identifiers redacted). On or about August 6, 2008, B&B Consulting's Charles Schwab account received $100, 000 from G.B. Exhibit 2 at 3 account numbers redacted). The next day, Sonovich initiated a $50, 000 wire transfer to a Nevada State Bank account ending 1346, on which she had signature authority. Exhibit 3 (account numbers redacted). Also on August 7, 2008, Sonovich wired $50, 000 out of B&B's Charles Schwab account to one of Birch's purported companies, Phlorian Racing Limited. Exhibit 4 (account numbers redacted). That wire was returned to B&B Consulting's Charles Schwab account on or about August 15, 2008. Exhibit 2 at 4 (account numbers redacted). The return processed on August 18, 2008. Two days later, Sonovich wired $25, 000 to her Nevada State Bank account ending in 1346. Exhibit 5 (account numbers redacted). And her business partner, Brandy White Elk, received the remaining $25, 000 of G.B. and D.B.'s investment. Exhibit 6 (account numbers redacted). Five days later, on August 25, 2008, Sonovich wired $14, 000 to what may have been a Birch-controlled Barclays account. Exhibit 7 at 3 (account numbers redacted). Despite the fact that Sonovich invested at most $14, 000 of G.B. and D.B.'s $100, 000 with Birch-the purported international investment expert-Sonovich told G.B. his “profit” on his and D.B.'s $100, 000 investment a3fter 90 days was $500, 000.
Exhibit 8 (G.B. identifiers redacted). Bank records show how Sonovich used G.B. and D.B.'s money. For example, on August 8, 2008, the day after she wired $50, 000 to her Nevada State Bank account ending in 1346, Sonovich withdrew $6, 000 in cash. Exhibit 9 (account numbers redacted). Three days later, on August 11, 2008, Sonovich made four payments to American Express totaling approximately $14, 300-one for approximately $8, 000, another for approximately $4, 000, a third for approximately $1, 300, and a fourth for approximately $1, 000. Exhibit 7 at 1-2 (account numbers redacted). Sonovich also engaged in the following transactions in the approximately two-week period after receiving $50, 000 of G.B. and D.B.'s funds:
- On August 11, 2008, Sonovich made payments totaling $2, 900 to pay what appear to be credit card bills, including payments to Citi Bank, Capital One, and Washington Mutual. Exhibit 7 at 2 (account numbers redacted).
- On August 12, 2008, Sonovich paid Washington Mutual another $2, 000. Exhibit 7 at 2 (account numbers redacted).
- Also on August 12, 2008, Sonovich made a $4, 000 payment to Mercedes Benz. [Exhibit 7 at 2 (account numbers redacted).
- By check dated August 6, 2008, the same day G.B. wired $100, 000 to B&B Consulting's Charles Schwab account, Sonovich paid $11, 325 to Southern Highlands, which is a golf community in which Sonovich and her former husband lived. Exhibit 10 (account number redacted). Although the check is dated August 6, 2008, it did not process until August 11, 2008-three days after she wired $50, 000 of G.B. and D.B.'s money to her Nevada State Bank account. Exhibit 7 at 4 (account numbers redacted).
- On August 20, 2008, another $10, 000 in cash was withdrawn from the account. Exhibit 11 (account number redacted). After telling G.B. that the profit on his first investment was $500, 000, Sonovich convinced G.B. to invest an additional $150, 000, which he sent her on or about December 8, 2008. Exhibit 12 at 4 (account number redacted). As with G.B.'s initial investment, Sonovich entered a contract with G.B. in which she represented she would invest G.B.'s $150, 000 with Birch. Exhibit 13 (G.B. identifiers redacted). That did not happen. The day after receiving G.B.'s $150, 000 investment, Sonovich wired $5133, 500 to her Nevada State Bank account. Exhibit 14 (account numbers redacted); Exhibit 12 at 4 (account numbers redacted). Sonovich failed to tell G.B. that, like his first investment, his second did not go to Birch. The day Sonovich wired the $133, 500 to her Nevada State Bank account, she paid $5, 500 to Chase Auto and cashed a check for approximately $60, 000, as well as wired money between her checking and savings accounts. Exhibit 15 at 1 and 6 (account numbers redacted). Two days later, on December 11, 2008, Sonovich made a $5, 500 payment to Mercedes Benz and a $2, 200 payment to American Express. Exhibit 15 at 2 (account numbers redacted). . . The following is a summary of what Sonovich did with the victims' money:
- On August 6, 2008, G.B. and D.B. gave Sonovich $100, 000. Sonovich kept at least $61, 000 and gave $25, 000 to White Elk.
- On August 25, 2008, J.S. gave Sonovich $250, 000. Sonovich kept $25, 000.
- Between August 27, 2008, and September 4, 2008, M.L., S.L., and J.H. gave Sonovich a total of $313, 000, with M.S. and S.L. giving Sonovich $63, 000, and J.H. giving ...

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