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Stupid Defendant Tricks: Poor Photo-Editing Skills Edition

When you're facing decades in federal prison on various and sundry fraud offenses, I imagine the temptation to use any means necessary to try to shave a few years off your sentence is rather strong. I also imagine that, if you're the kind of person who would use a fake cashier's check to buy a $30,000 car, you might not have the greatest judgment. But editing yourself into pictures that make it look like you're engaged in charity work and other good deeds, and then submitting those photos to the judge as part of your attempt to plead for leniency -- come on!

Lowering the Bar has the story of Daryl Simon, in two parts. Simon doctored photos to make it appear as though he was the kind of guy who helped patients in rehab and physical therapy, and mentored teenagers. But he wasn't smart enough to realize that the U.S. Attorney's office might figure out that he used the same shot of himself in two of the pictures, simply reversing the image. This, and the submission of fake supportive sentencing letters from charitable organizations and individuals, got Simon a two-point sentencing enhancement for obstruction of justice, with the net result being a sentence of 285 months. For the mathematically challenged, that's just shy of 24 years.

One of the more interesting tidbits about Simon was that, while on the lam after jumping bail, he worked as a magician. Under the name "Justin Lusion." Prosecutors didn't think that play on words was all that cute. From their sentencing memo:

Furthermore, Simon's adoption of the "stage name" (or alias) "Justin Lusion" while he was a fugitive reveals more than his entrepreneurial character.  "Justin Lusion" phonetically mirrors the phrase "just-an-illusion," and his use of this alias while evading arrest further shows that Simon considered his offenses, and his flight from justice, a joke.

Maybe. But his act ain't half bad:

Posted by Eric Lipman on July 20, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)

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