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United States v. Olson

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

August 14, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
AARON E. OLSON, Defendant, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE [Hon. Landya B. McCafferty, U.S. District Judge]

          Inga L. Parsons, Christian J. Urbano and Law Offices of Inga L. Parsons on brief for appellant.

          Seth R. Aframe, Assistant United States Attorney, and John J.Farley, Acting United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.

          Before Torruella, Thompson, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

          TORRUELLA, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

          Defendant-Appellant Aaron Olson ("Olson") committed securities and tax fraud, and he pled guilty to tax fraud. Olson's plea agreement contained a sentencing range of forty-two to sixty months of imprisonment, and the district court sentenced him to sixty months. Olson also agreed to pay restitution, and the district court ordered him to pay almost $23 million. Olson now appeals his sentence and his restitution schedule. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         In 1999, Olson began trading in commodities, and in 2002, he was approached by his first client. Although he was not licensed as a trader, Olson continued adding clients. By 2010, he had invested several million dollars for family, friends, and their businesses, and the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities investigated his unregulated trading. However, Olson remained unlicensed to trade in New Hampshire, and his business, AEO Associates ("AEO"), was not registered to trade in the state. As a result of the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities investigation, AEO effectively shut down and Olson created KMO Associates ("KMO"), which he registered in Massachusetts but ran out of his home in New Hampshire, where he remained unlicensed. KMO was also not registered in New Hampshire.

          By 2011, many of Olson's investments had failed. Rather than truthfully report losses to his investors, however, he turned his investment business into a Ponzi scheme, creating false earnings statements showing significant returns and attracting new investments to pay investors. Olson also converted about $2.6 million of investor funds for his personal use and comingled clients' funds with his own. In addition to his securities violations, he attempted to evade or defeat taxes on income he obtained from operating AEO and KMO.

         Olson's clients finally became suspicious and confronted him. On March 23, 2012, he confessed and self-reported to the government and the Internal Revenue Service.

         B. Procedural History

         The government filed a four-count information on April 14, 2014, charging Olson with attempt to evade or defeat tax, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201. On March 9, 2015, Olson entered into a plea agreement pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) (the "Agreement"), in which he pled guilty to the four tax-fraud counts. The Agreement allowed Olson to withdraw his plea if the district court did not accept it, and it contained, inter alia: a sentencing range of forty-two to sixty months; a condition that Olson would pay restitution to the victims "in amounts to be determined at the time of sentencing"; and an appeal waiver that became effective if Olson was sentenced "within, or lower than, the guideline range determined by the Court." At his plea hearing, the district court informed Olson that "[u]nder some circumstances [he] . . . may have the right to appeal any sentence, " but that Olson waived some appeal rights, "and those waivers are set forth in your plea agreement."

         Thereafter, sentencing was delayed while Olson attempted to sell his granite quarry to provide a fund for restitution. The district court then held Olson's sentencing hearing on April 1, 2016. It calculated Olson's recommended sentencing range to be thirty-seven to forty-six months under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines (the "Guidelines"), the same range recommended in Olson's presentence investigative report. Both parties agreed with the calculation and jointly recommended a sentence of forty-two months. The district court also heard testimony from two victims, Olson, and Olson's wife, read letters from ...


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