Now that Mr. Graves has been convicted, I will start to think about what sentence he might earn.
Having noticed how closely I am following the case of now-convicted human trafficker Keith Graves you may wonder why I am paying such close attention to his case.
After reading this post, you will be really curious. (12-19-15 update) I hope this post explains my curiosity.
Why am I paying such close attention?
There are several reasons. This is a continuation of my discussion of The Overnighters program at Concordia Lutheran Church and the documentary about the program, in which Mr. Graves played a major sole second only to Jay Reinke. I’m interested in that documentary because it matches my interest in the shale oil revolution, particularly as it is playing out in North Dakota. I’m interested in that because of the huge impact it has on our economy. More importantly, my son and his family are making a life in Williston, North Dakota. He was blessed to find housing in the overnighters program when he first moved to the city.
Finally, I am interested because following specific cases has provided me tremendous education. For example, I learned a lot by following the case of a church bookkeeper convicted of embezzlement in a nearby city and a nearby mayor convicted of bribery. In fact I turned my blog posts about those two stories into a book.
Likewise, I learned a tremendous amount about the federal legal system by following the story of Scott London, a former regional audit partner for KPMG, who pled guilty to insider-trading and was sentenced to 14 months in prison. I turned the blog posts about his story into a book.
Likewise I am following the case of Mr. Graves in order to learn more about how the federal legal system works. It has been a fascinating journey.
So, the next step in my learning is to watch the sentencing process for Mr. Graves.
Wild guess on sentencing
Having read the sentencing arguments presented by the feds and the defense attorney in Mr. London’s case, I have a generally vague, very foggy understanding of federal sentencing.
If you want to learn more, here are a few things you could check out:
- Wikipedia’s explanation of Federal Sentencing Guidelines – This is a great survey of the rules. In particular it has the Sentencing Table.
- Federal Sentencing Guidelines
- Chapter 2 – offense conduct – This chapter describes the base offense levels and enhancements for a wide variety of federal crimes. Section 2G1.1 on page 204 discusses the human trafficking charge for which Mr. Graves was convicted.
- Chapter 3 – adjustments – This chapter explains how a wide variety of factors are used to increase or decrease the base offense level.
Criminal History Category
The starting point is Criminal History Category. The only thing that I have read indicating anything of Mr. Graves’ previous criminal history is his conduct with a minor while he was in Los Angeles.
I have been wanting to look at Mr. Graves’ history in California. Finally checked the online system at the LA Superior Court over the weekend. Did a search on his first and last name, which produced a list of 6 cases. All of those matched his middle name, so I’m guessing those are all his cases, although there could be another person matching his name.
The court system did not allow me to open up any of the cases. A search on the case numbers showed file not available. Either their system isn’t working quite right, or I am missing something on how to use their system.
Of those 6 cases, three were dismissed or not prosecuted, so it isn’t fair to consider those or even mention their nature. One case resulted in a conviction on 10/20/1998 under vehicle code 12500a, which is driving without a valid license.
Another case ended by moving the charges to another case. That final case contained 4 charges. The court site lists one acquittal and three convictions on 9/30/1999 from charges that originated on 9/15/1998. The three convictions were under penal code 288 (A), which is lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under 14. That is the wording in the code.
Contrast to comments in documentary
Mr. Graves was 21 when the charges were filed. The convictions were for involvement with a child under 14.
That is in marked contrast to comments in The Overnighters documentary which, as I recall, suggest the charges were for an 18 or 19-year-old fooling around with his 16-year-old girlfriend. I need to rewatch the movie yet again to verify that, but I made mental note of that comment in the movie each time I have watched it. There is a rather large difference between the ages of involved parties being 19 & 16 versus 21 & <14.
I do not know how to look up what sentence Mr. Graves received for those convictions. After looking at the sentencing guidelines explanation at Wikipedia, I will assume he received a sentence of more than 60 days, which would give him 2 points (for sentence under 13 months) or 3 points (over 13 month sentence). I think he would have either 2 or 3 points, which I think would put him into Criminal History Category II. I am also making a wild assumption that state charges enter into the category determination.
There is a significant impact of each increase in the history category, so Mr. Graves really needs legal advice to make sure he doesn’t get bumped up one level.
What do you think? Have I missed something major in the discussion to this point?
Next post discusses the offense level and the possible sentence when combining the history and offense level.