Three-Year Federal Sentence Overturned on Appeal

A three-year federal prison sentence has been overturned by a federal appellate court. Robert Kulick was originally sentenced to thirty-seven months in prison for illegal possession of a firearm, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled that the sentence improperly took into account Kulick’s extortion of an employee.

Atlanta appeals attorneys following the case noted that Mr. Kulick’s argument on appeal was that the thirty-seven month sentence was based on an incorrect application of the federal sentencing guidelines that was made by the federal probation department. The sentencing judge accepted the calculation made by the probation department. The Third Circuit agreed with Kulick that the calculation was wrong.

Kulick was charged based on an incident in 2005 in which he threatened an employee of his with a gun. Supposedly the employee had stolen some money from the company. However, because of a tax conviction, Kulick was forbidden to possess a firearm. Kulick pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm on Sept. 15, 2009.

U.S. District Judge James Munley used the probation department’s calculation of the appropriate sentence, but the Third Circuit ruled that the probation department had improperly based the guideline on a charge of extortion, which called for a sentence of 46 to 57 months, as opposed to unlawful possession of a firearm, which called for a sentence of 30 to 37 months.

An extortion charge was used in the original calculation of sentencing because the gun was used to threaten the employee, but the appellate court said that the extortion events had occurred years before the firearm charge was brought, and that the incidents were too far removed from each other to be considered the same course of conduct.

Kulick will be resentenced, but it is not certain that he will receive a lesser sentence. If the judge does sentence him to the same length of prison term, though, he will have to give an explanation for his departure from sentencing guidelines.

Kulick has provided federal prosecutors with information regarding alleged case fixing by county judges in Pennsylvania.

Source: Times Leader, “Court overturns sentence of businessman who aided corruption probe,” December 29, 2010