United States v. Katie Boll (8th Cir. July 2021)

The Federal Docket

Sentencing Guidelines – Whether the enhancement for an offense involving a “large number” of vulnerable victims is applicable is a relative inquiry and based on the circumstances of each case, and it was properly applied in a case where the defendant stole pain medications from 14 patients.

For her conduct in stealing pain medications from 14 patients at the hospice she worked at, Katie Boll pled guilty to tampering with a consumer product under 18 U.S.C. § 1365(a) and acquiring controlled substances by deception under 21 U.S.C. § 843(a)(3). Over Boll’s objection, the District Court applied the two-level sentencing enhancement at U.S.S.G. § 3A1.1(b)(2)(B) for her conduct involving a “large number” of vulnerable victims.

On appeal, Boll argued that 14 was not a “large number” for purposes of this Guideline. Reviewing the District Court’s interpretation of the Guidelines de novo and its application thereof for clear error, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the sentence. “Large” is a relative term, meant to be employed when the number of victims in the offense and relevant conduct exceeds the typical number involved in similar offenses. The Court also focused on Boll’s “hands-on” contact with the patients.

Appeal from the Northern District of Iowa, Waterloo Division
Opinion by Stras, joined by Greunder and Benton

Click here to read the opinion

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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