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United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Roydel NICHOLSON, Defendant-Appellant.


Decided: October 29, 2019

PRESENT: José A. Cabranes, Reena Raggi, Circuit Judges, Edward R. Korman, District Judge.  * FOR APPELLEE: Monica J. Richards, Assistant United States Attorney, for James P. Kennedy, Jr., United States Attorney, Western District of New York, Buffalo, NY. FOR DEFENDANT-APPELLANT: Jay S. Ovsiovitch, Federal Public Defender’s Office, Western District of New York, Rochester, NY.


Defendant-Appellant Roydel Nicholson (“Nicholson”) appeals from an August 30, 2018 amended judgment convicting him, following a jury trial, of three counts of mail fraud and one count of international money laundering. The District Court originally sentenced Nicholson principally to 87 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay $145,794 in restitution. We vacated the sentence on the basis of a procedural error stemming from the application of the vulnerable victim enhancement under § 3A1.1(b)(1) of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (“Guidelines”) and remanded the cause for resentencing. See United States v. Nicholson, 739 F. App'x 696, 698–99 (2d Cir. 2018).

On remand, the District Court resentenced Nicholson principally to a below-Guidelines sentence of 60 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, and $145,794 to be paid in restitution. His advisory term of imprisonment under the Guidelines was 70 to 87 months. On this new appeal, Nicholson only appeals the substantive reasonableness of his sentence of 60 months’ imprisonment. We assume the parties’ familiarity with the underlying facts, procedural history of the case, and issues on appeal.

“We review the ․ substantive reasonableness of a sentence under a deferential abuse-of-discretion standard.” United States v. Yilmaz, 910 F.3d 686, 688 (2d Cir. 2018). We will set aside a sentence as substantively unreasonable only if it is “so shockingly high, shockingly low, or otherwise unsupportable as a matter of law that allowing [it] to stand would damage the administration of justice.” United States v. Broxmeyer, 699 F.3d 265, 289 (2d Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks omitted).

Nicholson argues that his below-Guidelines 60-month sentence is substantively unreasonable because he was a 65-year-old “victim turned blind-money-mule who was tricked into participating in the Jamaican Lottery Scam,” who “was not a sophisticated individual capable of realizing that he was participating in a criminal activity, and [who] did not profit from his participation in the scam.” Appellant’s Br. at 3. The District Court considered all of these factors in granting Nicholson’s request for a non-Guidelines sentence, which also happens to be 15 years lower than the statutory maximum. The District Court explained that the fact that Nicholson was a victim of the scam only highlighted the seriousness of the offense. Specifically, the District Court emphasized that Nicholson continued to participate in the scam after realizing that he was a victim, and “engaged in conduct which resulted in the [third-party] victim in this case losing ․ tens of thousands of dollars.” App. at 42. The District Court also noted that the offense was not a “one-time deal” but, rather, involved “repeat conduct.” Id. at 42–43.

In sum, Nicholson has not borne his “heavy burden” of showing that his sentence is “so ‘shockingly high ․ or otherwise unsupportable as a matter of law’ that allowing [it] to stand would ‘damage the administration of justice.’ ” Broxmeyer, 699 F.3d at 289 (quoting United States v. Rigas, 583 F.3d 108, 123 (2d Cir. 2009)). Thus, we conclude that, in the circumstances presented, a 60-month sentence is not substantively unreasonable.


We have reviewed all of the remaining arguments raised by Nicholson on appeal and find them to be without merit. For the foregoing reasons, we AFFIRM the August 30, 2018 amended judgment of the District Court.

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