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Man Pled Guilty to Stealing COVID Checks US Wants 12 to 16 Month Sentencing Guideline

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon

SDNY COURTHOUSE, Nov 22 – Leuris Lanuel Sabala-Mejia was charged with stealing US government funds - COVID relief and tax refund checks - and aggravated identity theft.

On December 21, 2022, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York  Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil held a change of plea proceeding. Inner City Press went and covered it.  

 The US Attorney's Office agreed to drop the aggravated ID theft count, which carries a mandatory consecutive two year sentence; its plea agreement anticipates a guideline sentence of 12 to 18 months, with two criminal history points to be subtracted for acceptance of responsibility.

  Judge Vyskocil asked why not a third point, for timeliness. The response was that only applies to sentences of 16 months and up. She thanked the AUSA and defense counsel for their answers. 

  The defendant described stealing and cashing checks. Judge Vyskocil accepted his guilty plea, and set sentencing for May 1 at noon. 

But it didn't happen then. In fact, on November 22, 2023 the US put in its sentencing letter, asking for the 12 to 18 months.

The case is US v. Sabala-Mejia, 21-cr-225 (Vyskocil)


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