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Miami�A challenge to changes in national sentencing rules pushed through Congress last year by Attorney General John Ashcroft and Republican leaders has been shot down by Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King. In a 14-page order, King rejected every argument made by a high-powered South Florida defense team in its spirited attack on the sentences imposed on convicted Hialeah, Fla., gambling boss Luis A. Bordon Sr. and his sons, Luis Bordon Jr. and Adel Bordon. At a hearing on Jan. 28, King affirmed those sentences, as demanded by the U.S. attorney’s office. King’s most important findings upheld the constitutionality of a key part of the “Feeney Amendment,” and dismissed as “irrelevant to the issues presented in this case” additional defense arguments that the law violates the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine. King’s decision has no binding effect outside his courtroom. Still, his findings establish a precedent for several thousand criminal cases with similar issues that are thought to be pending nationwide. “This is a case of first impression,” said Fort Lauderdale, Fla., attorney Benson B. Weintraub, a sentencing expert who represented the Bordons along with Miami’s Ben Kuehne and his law partner Jon A. Sale, and J. David Bogenschutz of Fort Lauderdale’s Bogenschutz & Dutko. Weintraub noted that many defendants would be eligible for lower sentences but for the new law, which was sponsored by Representative Tom Feeney, R-Fla., and dubbed the Feeney Amendment. A spokesman for Marcos Daniel Jiménez, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, declined to comment on King’s ruling. King tailored his ruling to issues bearing directly on the Bordons’ resentencing. Those sentencing issues arose after the Bordons were convicted in 1998 for running an illegal gambling operation and conspiring to launder illegal gambling proceeds through the family’s liquor store. The jury also ordered the Bordons to forfeit nearly $5.8 million. After a hearing in 1998, King calculated that U.S. guidelines allowed him to depart downward from usual sentencing range. Bordon Sr. got 57 months in prison; his sons got 46 months. The Bordons were allowed to remain free during their appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. “However, no good deed goes unpunished,” King quipped in his order. In July 2000, the 11th Circuit affirmed the convictions but vacated and remanded the case for resentencing after finding that King had abused his discretion by departing downward without making adequate factual findings.

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