Friday, May 11, 2007

Upward Variance for Steroid Scheme Upheld

US v. Shortt: Shortt was a South Carolina doctor who ran a 7-year scheme in which he provided steroids and human growth hormone to athletes (including some of the Carolina Panther, apparently). In addition to providing the substances, he helped craft means by which the use of those substances could be hidden from officials and testers. Charged in a 43-count indictment with conspiracy and substantive distribution charges, Shortt eventually pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge. Shortt's Guideline calculations produced an advisory range of 0-6 months. At sentencing, the Government moved for an upward variance, arguing that the Guidelines did not adequately address Shortt's conduct (there is no Guideline dealing with human growth hormone, for instance). The district court agreed and sentenced Shortt to 12 month and 1 day in prison.

On appeal, Shortt argued that his sentence was unreasonable. The Fourth Circuit disagreed, upholding the district court's findings regarding the scope and seriousness of Shortt's offense and his general lack of contrition (in spite of getting credit for acceptance of responsibility). Along the way, the court makes some bold statements about the purposes of sentencing and the proper consideration of sentences (as Doug Berman highlights here).

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