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United States v. Dullum

March 13, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JARED DULLUM, APPELLANT



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. (D.C. Criminal Action No. 06-cr-00676) District Judge: Honorable Susan D. Wigenton.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambro, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) January 30, 2009

Before: SCIRICA, Chief Judge, AMBRO, and SMITH, Circuit Judges

OPINION OF THE COURT

Jared Dullum appeals his sentence of 28 months' imprisonment.*fn1 He pled guilty to mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344. Dullum argues that his sentence was procedurally unreasonable, asserting that the District Court erred in misapplying five sentencing adjustments: four enhancements-for a loss amount greater than $30,000, vulnerable victim, abuse of trust, and obstruction of justice; and one deduction for acceptance of responsibility. For the following reasons, we affirm the sentence of the District Court.

I. Background

Dullum was a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service and an active member of his New Jersey church. Within his church, he served in a senior leadership position, teaching classes and counseling fellow members who were struggling with alcohol and substance abuse.

Two members Dullum worked with in this capacity were Julie DeSacia and Nick Cetrulo, both recovering alcoholics and drug addicts whom Dullum characterized as "a little slow." DeSacia and Cetrulo also struggled financially. DeSacia received a monthly payment from the Plumber's Union Pension Fund and Cetrulo received disability benefits. Dullum also offered to serve as the financial advisor to both persons. In June 2004, DeSacia became very ill, suffering from physical and mental effects of cirrhosis of the liver. According to Dullum, DeSacia told him that she wanted Cetrulo to be provided for upon her death. Dullum prepared a will and associated trust, but DeSacia never signed the documents before she died.

A. The Forged Will

After DeSacia died intestate in January 2005, Dullum forged DeSacia's signature on the will and trust, backdating both documents to 2004. The will purported to name Dullum the executor of the estate and Cetrulo the primary beneficiary. Representing himself as executor, Dullum got the Pension Fund to send him a check for $29,352.76, which was DeSacia's lumpsum payout. He deposited the check into an estate bank account he had opened, and then transferred the proceeds to his personal account.

Dullum did not inform DeSacia's family that he was acting as executor. He told Cetrulo that the will named Cetrulo as the estate's primary beneficiary. Yet Dullum only gave Cetrulo an amount less than $8,000, which he represented as the full proceeds of the estate.*fn2 Dullum later admitted that he paid Cetrulo to stop him from "pressuring me for my help" and asking questions about the will. He also told the estate's creditors that the estate had little or no money, so it could not pay most of its outstanding debts.

The Secret Service began an internal investigation concerning these issues in July 2005, after Dullum's bank communicated with the agency to report suspicious activity involving his accounts. When agents questioned Dullum about the bank transfer from the estate's account to his personal account, he claimed that DeSacia had rented his beach house. In support of this contention, he ...


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