Amendment: Section 2F1.1(b), as amended by Amendment 595 (see supra), is further amended in subdivision (4) by striking "; or" after "agency" and inserting a semicolon; by inserting "a misrepresentation or other fraudulent action during the course of a bankruptcy proceeding; or (C) a" after "(B)"; and by inserting "prior, specific" before "judicial".
The Commentary to §2F1.1 captioned "Application Notes", as amended by Amendment 595 (see supra), is further amended by striking Note 6 in its entirety and inserting the following:
"6. Subsection (b)(4)(C) provides an enhancement if the defendant commits a fraud in contravention of a prior, official judicial or administrative warning, in the form of an order, injunction, decree, or process, to take or not to take a specified action. A defendant who does not comply with such a prior, official judicial or administrative warning demonstrates aggravated criminal intent and deserves additional punishment. If it is established that an entity the defendant controlled was a party to the prior proceeding that resulted in the official judicial or administrative action, and the defendant had knowledge of that prior decree or order, this enhancement applies even if the defendant was not a specifically named party in that prior case. For example, a defendant whose business previously was enjoined from selling a dangerous product, but who nonetheless engaged in fraudulent conduct to sell the product, is subject to this enhancement. This enhancement does not apply if the same conduct resulted in an enhancement pursuant to a provision found elsewhere in the guidelines (e.g., a violation of a condition of release addressed in §2J1.7 (Commission of Offense While on Release) or a violation of probation addressed in §4A1.1 (Criminal History Category)).
If the conduct that forms the basis for an enhancement under (b)(4)(B) or (C) is the only conduct that forms the basis for an adjustment under §3C1.1 (Obstruction of Justice), do not apply an adjustment under §3C1.1.".
The Commentary to §2F1.1 captioned "Background", as amended by Amendment 595 (see supra), is further amended by striking the fourth sentence of the fourth paragraph and inserting the following:
"The commission of a fraud in the course of a bankruptcy proceeding subjects the defendant to an enhanced sentence because that fraudulent conduct undermines the bankruptcy process as well as harms others with an interest in the bankruptcy estate.".
Reason for Amendment: The amendment was prompted by the circuit conflict regarding whether the enhancement in §2F1.1 (Fraud and Deceit) for "violation of any judicial or administrative order, injunction, decree, or process" applies to false statements made during bankruptcy proceedings. Compare United States v. Saacks, 131 F.3d 540 (5th Cir. 1997) (bankruptcy fraud implicates the violation of a judicial or administrative order or process within the meaning of the enhancement; United States v. Michalek, 54 F.3d 325 (7th Cir. 1995) (bankruptcy fraud is a "special procedure"; it is a violation of a specific adjudicatory process); United States v. Lloyd, 947 F.2d 339 (8th Cir. 1991) (knowing concealment of assets in bankruptcy fraud violates "judicial process"); United States v. Welch, 103 F.3d 906 (9th Cir. 1996) (same); United States v. Messner, 107 F.3d 1448 (10th Cir. 1997) (same); United States v. Bellew, 35 F.3d 518 (11th Cir. 1994) (knowing concealment of assets during bankruptcy proceedings qualifies as a violation of a "judicial order"), with United States v. Shadduck, 112 F.3d 523 (1st Cir. 1997) (falsely filling out bankruptcy forms does not violate judicial process since the debtor is not accorded a position of trust). See also United States v. Carrozella, 105 F. 3d 796 (2d Cir. 1997) (district court erred in enhancing the sentence for violation of judicial process in the case of a defendant who filed false accounts in probate court).
The majority of circuits have held that the current enhancement applies to a defendant who conceals assets in a bankruptcy case because the conduct violates a judicial order or violates judicial process. Commission data indicate that, in fiscal year 1998, 41 defendants received an increase for either "violation of a judicial order . . . or misrepresentation of a charitable organization." The data did not distinguish between the two parts of the enhancement.
This amendment creates a separate and distinct basis for a two-level enhancement under the fraud guideline for a misrepresentation or false statement made in the course of a bankruptcy proceeding. Additionally, the existing enhancement and its accompanying commentary are modified to make clear that, in order for the enhancement to apply in a fraud case not involving a bankruptcy proceeding, there must be a false statement in violation of a specific, prior order. Therefore, any case involving a bankruptcy fraud will result in a two-level enhancement, but in the case of a non-bankruptcy fraud, the enhancement will apply only if a defendant was given prior notice of a particular action. The Commission has decided to treat bankruptcy fraud more severely because of its adverse impact on the bankruptcy judicial process and because of the additional harm and seriousness involved in such conduct. See United States v. Saacks, 131 F.3d 540, 543 (5th Cir. 1997) (noting that bankruptcy fraud is more serious than "the most pedestrian federal fraud offense").
Effective Date: The effective date of this amendment is November 1, 2000.