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Tenth Circuit Upholds 27-Month Sentence of Utah Guard; Altered UAs and Other Misconduct for Sexual Favors

Tenth Circuit Upholds 27-Month Sentence for Utah Guard; Altered UAs and Other Misconduct for Sexual Favors

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a former prison guard’s 27-month sentence, finding that an “obstruction of justice” enhancement factor was properly applied.
The Cornell Community Corrections Center (CCC) in Salt Lake City, Utah is a privately owned and operated prison under contract with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to house federal prisoners.
In March 2006, the FBI began investigating allegations of illegal activities by CCC employees. Various CCC staff members, including Larry Jensen, were found to have engaged in illegal conduct.
On August 30, 2006, a federal grand jury indicted Jensen for destroying, altering or falsifying records in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1519. He was arrested and admitted to FBI agents “that, as alleged in the indictment, he engaged in criminal conduct on April 19, 2006, when, at the request of a CCC inmate and in exchange for $40, he provided the inmate with a urine sample so that the inmate could obtain a negative urinalysis, and completed official paperwork falsely stating the inmate had provided a sample in Jensen’s presence.”
Jensen also admitted to several other crimes, including allowing female and male prisoners to visit in exchange for a sexual favor; providing four prisoners advance notice of pending urinalysis screenings, in exchange for prisoners agreeing to be photographed nude, sexual favors and naked pictures of a female prisoner’s boyfriend; providing two prisoners with urine samples because they would likely test positive for controlled substances, in exchange for small sums of money; failing to record prisoners’ positive breath tests; and allowing two male and two female prisoners to leave CCC at night to engage in sexual activity, in exchange for $50.
On January 10, 2007, Jensen pleaded guilty to the count alleged in the indictment. A presentence investigation report (PSR) proposed enhancing his base offense level by two levels. The district court overruled Jensen’s objection to the proposed enhancement, adopted the PSR’s calculations and sentenced Jensen to 27 months in prison, the top end of the 21-27 sentence range, plus a 36-month term of supervised release.
On appeal, the Tenth Circuit rejected Jensen’s challenge to the application of the “obstruction of justice” enhancement factor of U.S.S.G. § 2 J 1.2(b)(3). Based upon the district court’s “uncontroverted factual findings,” the Court of Appeals concluded that “Jensen’s specific offense characteristics fell within the scope” of the enhancement rule. The appellate court held that “the district court aptly found” that Jensen’s “extreme and repetitive misconduct ... contributed substantially ... to the undermining of the integrity of the operations at Cornell.... The whole thing became known to every inmate.... The defendant’s conduct was so prevalent that many residents were aware that they could avoid accountability through payment of money or sexual favors in exchange for criminal intervention on their behalf.”
Accordingly, the Tenth Circuit found the obstruction of justice enhancement applicable because Jensen’s conduct was extensive in scope and prevented CCC and BOP officials from learning that numerous prisoners used controlled substances or otherwise violated CCC rules. See: United States v. Jensen, 248 Fed.Appx. 849 (10th Cir. 2007) (unpublished).

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Related legal case

United States v. Jensen