News Release

U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE, 2-500
Washington, DC 20002-8002

For Immediate Release:
Monday, August 17, 1998

Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Affairs Officer
(202) 273-4590


WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 17, 1998) -- The United States Sentencing Commission today voted to formally seek public comment on possible changes to the federal sentencing guidelines for telemarketing offenses and so-called "economic crimes" (i.e., fraud, theft, and tax offenses).

In the area of telemarketing, the U.S. Sentencing Commission is acting in response to a recent congressional directive that requires the agency to review telemarketing offenses. In the Telemarketing Fraud Prevention Act of 1998, Congress directed the Commission to, among other things, ensure that sentencing guidelines reflect the serious nature of telemarketing offenses.

The request for comment on penalties involving fraud, theft, and tax offenses is a renewed effort by the Commission to refine the federal sentencing guidelines in this area. The Commission has been working closely with several groups, including the United States Judicial Conference Committee on Criminal Law, to clarify the way in which penalties should be determined when the crime involves the loss of money or other property.

Soliciting public comment is the first step in possibly changing the punishment that federal judges can select when sentencing a convicted offender. In May 1998, the Commission recommended to Congress that it modify mass marketing offenses, including telemarketing. Those recommendations are still pending.

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines, which went into effect November 1, 1987, structure the courts' sentencing discretion to ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive a similar sentence. The Commission has ongoing responsibility to monitor and amend the guidelines.

United States Sentencing Commission: