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United States v. Pirello

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

May 11, 2001, Argued and Submitted, Seattle, Washington ; June 20, 2001, Filed

No. 00-30232


 [*729]  TROTT, Circuit Judge:

This appeal arises from the sentence imposed on defendant-appellant, Michael D. Pirello, who pled guilty to using the Internet to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. The district court applied a two-level enhancement to Pirello's base offense level under United States Sentencing Guidelines § 2F1.1(b)(3) ("U.S.S.G. § 2F1.1(b)(3)") for using mass-marketing [**2]  to effectuate his crime. Pirello challenges the applicability of U.S.S.G. § 2F1.1(b)(3) to his case. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and AFFIRM the sentence imposed by the district court.


The Internet engenders a medium of communication that enables information to be quickly, conveniently, and inexpensively disseminated to hundreds of millions of individuals worldwide. See Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 849, 138 L. Ed. 2d 874, 117 S. Ct. 2329 (1997) (stating that an estimated 200 million people were expected to use the Internet in 1999). This quality makes the Internet a well-known and valuable tool for businesses and individuals seeking to advertise their goods to a large number of people. See, e.g., Michael Korybut, Online Auctions of Repossessed Collateral Under Article 9, 31 RUTGERS L.J. 29, 54 n.114 (1999) ("By targeting the specific market segment and continuous delivery over the Internet, online advertising can efficiently reach the appropriate audience, in sharp contrast to traditional mass marketing where the target audience is constantly exposed to advertisements in which [**3]  they have no interest."). Unfortunately, however, the power to solicit money instantly and inexpensively from hundreds of millions of people though Internet advertising presents  [*730]  a double-edged sword. The same characteristics that make the Internet a valuable tool in today's commerce --i.e., the ability to effectively and efficiently reach a large audience of prospective buyers --also make it a seductive playground for unscrupulous individuals bent on defrauding innocent victims. The facts before us clearly illustrate this point.

During the Fall of 1999, Pirello placed four separate advertisements on an Internet classified-ads website, each soliciting buyers for a different type of computer. The website, known as Excite Classifieds, allows individuals to post classified-ads that can be readily accessed by the general public. See advertisements posted by Pirello were part of a fraudulent scheme whereby Pirello would induce prospective buyers to send him money for computers he never intended to deliver.

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255 F.3d 728 *; 2001 U.S. App. LEXIS 13737 **; 2001 Cal. Daily Op. Service 5090; 2001 Daily Journal DAR 6263

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. MICHAEL D. PIRELLO, Defendant-Appellant.

Subsequent History:  [**1]  Certiorari Denied November 13, 2001, Reported at: 2001 U.S. LEXIS 10569.

Prior History: Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. D.C. No. CR-00-00001-WFN. Wm. Fremming Nielsen, District Judge, Presiding.


advertisements, solicitation, sentence, mass-marketing, classified, Guidelines, district court, large number, enhancement, fraudulent, e-mail, number of people, website, buyers, induce, purchase goods, classified-ads

Criminal Law & Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Clear Error Review, Sentencing, General Overview, Abuse of Discretion, De Novo Review, Imposition of Sentence, Findings, Abuse of Discretion, Clearly Erroneous Review, Findings of Fact, Sentences, De Novo Review, Sentencing Guidelines, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation