A former Louisiana sheriff’s deputy is appealing his 92-year prison sentence for bank fraud and identity theft, claiming a judge enhanced his sentence because she believed he killed the guy whose identity he stole.
Mark Hebert, 49, pleaded guilty last year to a civil rights violation, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft for stealing the debit card of a man who was badly injured in a car wreck,
according to the Times-Picayune.
While he pleaded guilty to those charges, Hebert’s plea agreement said the judge in the case would decide whether he was responsible for the death of his identity theft victim, Albert Bloch, at his sentencing hearing.
Bloch disappeared after the former sheriff’s deputy stole his identity while responding to his car accident, and his body his never been found.
But prosecutors argued Hebert was responsible for the death of Bloch, a Vietnam veteran who was homeless for several periods, according to The Times-Picayune.
US District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo agreed with prosecutors after a four-day sentencing hearing.
“I have no doubt that Mr. Hebert killed Mr. Bloch and disposed of his body for financial gain,” the judge said.
Heberts lawyer claims this finding led the judge to enhance his sentence, making 30-year sentences on three separate charges run consecutively instead of at the same time.
In appealing his 92-year sentence, Hebert’s lawyers argue that he’s serving time for a crime he was never convicted of and that Milazzo misapplied federal sentencing guidelines.
“No jury convicted Mr. Hebert of murder. He pleaded not guilty to the allegation that he committed murder and has persisted in that plea to this day,” his appellate brief stated.
The brief continued: “When Mr. Hebert later pleaded guilty to a civil rights misdemeanour, five counts of bank fraud with about $US16,000 of actual losses, and one count of aggravated identity theft, he did so pursuant to a written plea agreement that acknowledged that he continued to deny the murder allegation. Nevertheless, the district judge sentenced him for the murder to 92 years.”
Former assistant US attorney Randall Eliason told Business Insider that Hebert’s sentence is an “extreme example” of federal sentencing guidelines.
While it’s common practice for a judge to add years post-conviction up to the statutory maximum, he said it’s unusual for the sentencing hearing to last four days and focus on a charge a defendant wasn’t convicted of.
We reached out to the US attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.
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