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 Amazon Employee Pleads Guilty to Bribery 

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Michael Santos

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Role of Sentencing Guidelines After a Plea Agreement

Amazon Employee Case – Guilty Plea October 2021

Most white-collar criminal investigations are federal in nature.  A conviction for a white-collar crime such as bribery can carry enormous legal, personal, and professional consequences. Typically, federal prison sentences and restitution amounts are more severe than the sentences given in state courts for similar charges, as exemplified by a recent case out of Seattle Washington. 

In the plea agreement submitted to the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Rohit Kadimisetty, a former Amazon employee, claimed to have bribed a former colleague of Amazon in exchange for a seller’s confidential information. According to the plea agreement, this information provided Kadimisetty’s customers with an “unfair competitive advantage in the Amazon market.”

Kadimisetty also allowed Amazon employees to pay to invalidate other sellers’ merchandise lists in order to direct buyers to Kadimisetty’s customer list. As part of the judicial operation, he acts as an intermediary, helping other market consultants (some accused of being his co-defendants) to arrange similar services on behalf of clients.

U.S. prosecutors estimated that the fraudulent groups lost more than $100 million last year. It includes the profits of the merchants who benefited from the plot, the loss of sales from competitors, and the costs of Amazon.

Amazon “has systems in place to detect suspicious behavior by sellers or employees, and teams in place to investigate and stop prohibited activity,” said spokesperson Craig Andrews in a statement. “There is no place for fraud at Amazon and we will continue to pursue all measures to protect our store and hold bad actors accountable.” 

Federal lawyers are recommending Kadimisetty be sentenced to up to five years in prison and pay a fine of up to $50,000. In the case of Rohit Kadimisetty, the fine Federal lawyers are asking is well below the maximum that could be imposed of $250,000.  

The following article is available to help understand federal bribery. 

Link to article on Understanding Federal Bribery:

Sentencing Guidelines

What are Kadmisetty’s options as he heads into sentencing?

The issues related to sentencing in white-collar cases require advanced knowledge of the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) and are extremely complex.  At White Collar Advice, we have a strong understanding of the USSG and how to take advantage of some of the rules to potentially reduce time served should you be facing a federal offense. 

The U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines start with a grid providing judges with a recommended sentencing range. That sentencing range has a vertical scale and a horizontal scale (see picture below). The vertical scale measures offense severity and the horizontal scale measures other factors, such as criminal history. Knowing these factors allows an attorney to determine what is called a presumptive sentencing range.  This range exists where those two lines intersect. This intersection creates a number or an offense level – the higher the level the longer the prison term.

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Although the guidelines for bribery start at a level six, other factors can cause the level of offense to increase. One of those factors includes amount of loss.

According to the USSG:

For certain categories of offenses and offenders, the guidelines permit the court to impose either imprisonment or some other sanction or combination of sanctions. In determining the type of sentence to impose, the sentencing judge should consider the nature and seriousness of the conduct, the statutory purposes of sentencing, and the pertinent offender characteristics. A sentence is within the guidelines if it complies with each applicable section of this chapter. The court should impose a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the statutory purposes of sentencing. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

Next Steps After a Plea

Once someone pleads guilty to a crime in federal court, either by plea or trial, the next step is to come before a judge for the sentencing hearing.  This hearing can make or break someone’s future.  The judge ultimately will decide if you are going to prison or not.  Determining the procedure for how a judge determines the sentence is tricky.  It is important to understand what you are up against should you, like Kadimisetty, be faced with a sentencing hearing. 

The first thing that happens is the person who has pleaded guilty is interviewed by a probation officer.  Their job at this point is to put together a pre-sentence report.  This report contains, social, family, educational, and financial histories of the person being sentenced. 

The pre-sentence report is given to the judge, prosecutor, and defense lawyer.  During this stage, objections to information in the pre-sentence report can be made.  Have a good lawyer to assist with this is something to strongly consider. 

Next, the defense attorney will prepare a sentencing memorandum.  This is where White Collar Advice comes in.  We help your family and friends to write letters that will provide documentation to the judge as to why you deserve a lower sentence.  In addition, we help prepare a personal statement which is your own story told to the judge. All these pieces help the judge understand how remorseful a person is and allow them to see the bigger picture outside of the charges. 

The final step is attending the sentencing hearing.  This is your opportunity to speak to the judge and present your side of the story to give yourself the best chance possible of getting the lowest sentence.  The judge will also hear from the prosecution on their recommendation for the sentence. 

Sentence Mitigation Strategy

Bribery for Kadimisetty in the Amazon case comes with a recommended 5-year sentence. The goal as you head into sentencing is to do all you can to convince the judge to give leniency and reduce the recommended sentence from the prosecution. In the case of Joe, a White Collar Advice client, he said this about the mitigation strategies used in his case. “They (the judge) gave me probation.  The US Attorney was asking the judge for 30 months. Because of those letters and everything I have done since being investigated; the Judge gave me 5 years probation.”

If you want to qualify for the best possible scenario when it comes to your sentencing, it is important to learn about every solution available. Differentiate yourself from the others who come before the judge using a strategic plan. White Collar Advice is here to help you as you navigate your sentencing by preparing you with strategies to potentially mitigate the punishments recommended by the prosecution. 

Prison Professors, an Earning Freedom company, works alongside (not in place of) civil and criminal defense counsel to help clients proactively navigate through investigations and prosecutions. Our team also helps clients prepare mitigation and compliance strategies.

If you have any questions or are uncertain about any of the issues discussed in this post, schedule a call with our risk mitigation team to receive additional guidance.

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