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Case 3:14-cr-00032-RNC Document 62 Filed 01/21/15 Page 1 of 10

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
vs.
WILLIAM DONG

:
: CRIMINAL NO. 3:14CR00032(RNC)
: January 20, 2015

DEFENDANTS MEMORANDUM IN AID OF SENTENCING

William Dong, through counsel, submits this memorandum in support of a sentence of time
served followed by three years of supervised release.
I.

INTRODUCTION
When Mr. Dong was arrested on December 3, 2013, with guns at the University of New Haven

campus, there was a huge amount of speculation as to his intentions that day. To address that
speculation, Drs. Baranoski and Zonana of the Yale School of Medicine conducted an extensive
evaluation of Mr. Dong.1 They evaluated Mr. Dong for 11 hours, including psychological testing,
and interviewed family members for an additional hour.
As the evaluation explains, Williams possession of guns at the University of New Haven
campus is explained not by a desire to harm anyone, but by a desire to be prepared and to be able to
protect himself and others. As Dr. Zonana wrote:
In terms of the weapons at the school, there is nothing to suggest that he was planning any
kind of attack upon the school or any of the students. He was passing both of his courses
and was otherwise pleased with the school. His thought[] at the time was that if there was
somebody in the school who was planning to attack, then he would be able to respond if the
person came into his class. Thus he saw himself in a more protective role.

A copy of the evaluation will be provided to the Court under separate cover.
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Zonana Evaluation at 15. During the evaluation, William became quite upset when talking about the
idea that anyone could ever believe that he intended to hurt anyone. Id. at 10.
Most significantly, the evaluation determines that Williams risk of future violence is very
low. That assessment is based on the following factors. Most importantly, William has no prior
history of violence. Indeed, he has no prior history of any arrests or criminal activity. At the time of
this arrest, he was in his first semester at the University of New Haven and was enjoying school. He
had no complaints about his classes, teachers, or fellow students. He felt no antagonism towards
people at his school or towards law enforcement. On the contrary, he has great respect for law
enforcement. He was a criminal justice major and hoped to have a career in forensic science.
The evaluations conclusions as to Williams intentions that day and his low risk of future
violence are supported by the facts surrounding his arrest. He never purposefully brandished any
weapon, never threatened anyone, and never discharged any gun. He never intended that anyone be
aware that guns were in his possession. He had purchased the guns, including the illegal rifle, because
he thought that if there were an emergency and he was armed, he would be able to help people.
Unfortunately, he failed to grasp that others would react wholly differently to the knowledge that guns
were on or near a college campus. That is a lesson that he has learned all too well.
The advisory Guidelines in this case call for a sentence of 6 to 12 months. PSR 3. Mr. Dong
has already been incarcerated for over 12 months. However, because he has been held in state custody
since the date of his arrest, on charges stemming out of the same incident, he has received no federal
credit. Accordingly, Mr. Dong respectfully requests a sentence of time served, which is technically
a below-Guidelines sentence, but would have the effect of crediting him the 12 months he has already
spent in jail.
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Evaluation at 5.
He was also expected to work in his familys restaurants from a young age. He primarily was
responsible for clearing tables. As Dr. Zonanas evaluation explains, on weekends or other days when
school was out, he would work at the restaurant eight or nine hours a day from noon to 7:30 or 8:30
and occasionally he would stay until closing at 10:30 to 11:30pm. Zonana Evaluation at 6. He also
worked at his grandfathers restaurant when needed. Sometimes, his parents would ask him to stay
home with his younger sister. Id.
After graduating from high school, he attended college in Florida for a time until he developed
health problems and decided to return home. He enrolled at the University in New Haven with the
plan of majoring in criminal justice. He enjoyed his classes and hoped to have a career in law
enforcement. In August of 2013, he wrote a paper about his hero, the famous forensic scientist Dr.
Henry Lee. In the paper, he celebrated Dr. Lee for bringing criminals to justice and contributing to
the greater good. He hoped to follow in Dr. Lees footsteps. Exhibit B.
As his sister explains, I know in my heart that William had no intention of harming anybody.
Mr. Dongs friend Geoffrey Wargo, who has known him since middle school, adds: I never
associated Will with violent actions. Exhibit A.
a. Mr. Dongs interest in firearms
Mr. Dongs belief that gun possession would allow him to protect himself and others has two
sources. First, his family suffered several traumatic events that affected Mr. Dongs perception of the
safety of himself and his family. His aunt was held hostage in her home and his parents stores were
burglarized. Baranoski Evaluation at 3. The home invasion at his aunts house was particularly
disturbing to William. His aunt was tied up in her own house and her life was threatened. Id. at 5.
William ruminated on the severity of the attack and compared it to the attack in Cheshire, Connecticut,
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in which a mother and her two teenaged daughters were sexually assaulted and killed. William was
also affected by the shooting of school children in Newtown. As a result of those experiences, he
became invested in becoming a protector, particularly of his family, but of others as well. Id. at 5.
Unfortunately, William came to believe that a more powerful firearm would increase his ability to be
the protector he aspired to be.
Secondly, gun culture was a part of Williams social life. He had several friends who were a
few months older who got gun permits, and when he turned 21 he followed in their footsteps. He also
went to the shooting range with friends. The range was approximately 10-20 minutes from his house
and he usually went with friends on the weekends. Zonana Evaluation at 8-9.
Importantly, although William worries about protecting people, he is not paranoid. He trusts
those in authority and is not generally suspicious of others. Baranoski Evaluation at 4. He did not
want to subvert law enforcement; he wanted to join law enforcement. He felt that while the police
are there to protect you they are not always right on scene. Zonana Evaluation at 9.
While William was in possession of a significant amount of ammunition, estimated at 2700
rounds, at the time of his arrest, all of that ammunition was purchased legally. The ammunition was
only fired at gun ranges. Zonana Evaluation at 8. Furthermore, William was making regular trips to
the shooting range, often with friends, where he was sometimes shooting up to 250 rounds at a time.
As a result, that amount of ammunition would not be unusual.
Although William clearly took his interest in guns too far, he never demonstrated any interest
is using guns aggressively or proactively. He only ever conceived of guns as a means of protection.
b. Mr. Dongs low risk of future violence
As the evaluation performed by Drs. Baranoski and Zonana explains, [i]n terms of
[Williams] risk assessment, he would score very low on all of the violence risk assessment ratings
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as he does not show any evidence of an antisocial personality disorder and there is no prior history of
violent or criminal activity. Zonana Evaluation at 16.
He has absolutely no prior criminal record, not even an arrest. PSR 32. He has no history of
disciplinary problems in school. PSR 55. On the contrary, as the evaluation explains, Mr. Dong
relies upon rules, [and] respects and wishes to be a part of social authority. Baranoski Evaluation
at 4.
III.

ARGUMENT
A time-served sentence with a three year period of supervised release would be sufficient, but

not greater than necessary, to comply with all of the 3553(a) factors.
a. Just punishment
The parties and the Probation Office agree that the advisory sentencing guidelines range in
this case is 6 to 12 months imprisonment. Mr. Dong has already been incarcerated for over one year,
since being arrested on December 3, 2013. Thus, he has already served a sentence greater than the
top of the Advisory range, and has been held for state charges that stem out of the same incident
before this Court.
b. Specific deterrence and incapacitation
As for deterring Mr. Dong from purchasing another firearm, his dual prosecutions in state and
federal court, coupled with the over one year he has already spent in jail, have already deterred Mr.
Dong.
Mr. Dong has never been in jail before. As a result, there is simply no reason to believe that
the period of incarceration he has already experienced would be insufficient to specifically deter him
from future criminal conduct. In United States v. Mishoe, 241 F.3d 214, 220 (2nd Cir. 2001), the
Second Circuit states:
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Obviously, a major reason for imposing an especially long sentence upon those who have
committed prior offenses is to achieve a deterrent effect that the prior punishments failed to
achieve. That reason requires an appropriate relationship between the sentence for the current
offense and the sentences . . . for the prior offenses.
While the Mishoe decision principally addresses the Career Offender Guidelines, the teaching of that
decision applies here. Specifically, the concept of incremental punishment is relevant to the
sentencing goal of deterrence. When an individual has never been incarcerated before, a Guidelines
range that would result in an extended period of incarceration is excessively severe.
Moreover, an extended period of incarceration is not necessary because Mr. Dong was never
interested in participating in a criminal lifestyle. On the contrary, his interest in guns was motivated
primarily by a desire to protect and, in a sense, ally himself with law enforcement. He respects and
wishes to be a part of social authority. Baranoski Evaluation, at 4. His interest in gun culture was
associated with his desire to go into law enforcement and supported his view of himself as a protector
of his family and of others. Id. at 5.
Furthermore, once Mr. Dong is released, he will be supervised by both state and federal
probation. He will, at a minimum, have five years of state probation. The conditions of that probation
will include psychiatric counseling, substance abuse testing, possessing no firearms and staying away
from the University of New Haven campus. He will also be listed on Connecticuts Deadly Weapon
Offender Registry.
Lastly, research by the United States Sentencing Commission shows that Mr. Dong has a very
low likelihood of recidivating. Mr. Dong has the following characteristics, all of which indicate a
reduced likelihood of recidivism: (1) no prior criminal history, not even a prior arrest; (2) no illicit
drug use; and (3) educational level of some college. Research shows that the risk of recidivism is
lowest for offenders with the least experience in the criminal justice system. Offenders who have
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never been arrested have the lowest recidivism risk of all, which is only 6.8%. United States
Sentencing

Commission,

Recidivism

and

the

First

Offender,

13,

17

(2004)

http://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/researchpublications/2004/200405_Recidivism_First_Offender.pdf.
Education also predicts recidivism. The higher the level of education obtained by an offender,
the less likely it is that the offender will re-offend. Those with less than a high school education have
a 31.4 % chance of re-offending, whereas those who graduate from high school have only a 19.3 %
chance of re-offending. United States Sentencing Commission, Measuring Recidivism: The Criminal
History

Computation

of

the

Federal

Sentencing

Guidelines

(2004),

http://www.ussc.gov/publicat/Recisivism General.pdf.
Courts have recognized the significance of a reduced risk of recidivism and relied upon it in
determining sentences. See, e.g, Pepper v. United States, 131 S. Ct. 1229, 1234 (2011) (where the
Court describes the likelihood that [the defendant] will engage in future criminal conduct as a
central factor that sentencing courts must consider); United States v. Carter, 538 F.3d 784, 792 (7th
Cir. 2008) (where the court concluded the district court did not abuse its discretion when it determined
that the defendant, based on her age and the totality of circumstances . . . was unlikely to commit
further crimes in the future and upheld a sentence significantly below an advisory guidelines
sentence).
c. The need for the sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect
for the law and afford adequate deterrence
No one observing this case could believe that unlawful transport of a firearm in interstate
commerce, the offense to which Mr. Dong pled guilty, will not be met with the most severe
punishment. Somewhat unusually, Mr. Dong has been prosecuted for possession of the same firearm
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in both state and federal court. He has already been sentenced in state court to 8 years in jail,
suspended after the service of 2 years in jail, followed by 5 years of probation. He is currently serving
that state sentence. Even though he has no prior criminal convictions, he has received multiple felony
convictions and has already served over one year in jail, which is the top of the advisory Guidelines
recommendation. He has been expelled from school and will no longer be able to pursue his goal of
a career in law enforcement.
d. Rehabilitation
The Court must also consider the need for the sentence to promote rehabilitation in the most
effective manner. Further incarceration will be counter-productive to Mr. Dongs rehabilitation. For
a long time, his career goal has been to join law enforcement and that will no longer be possible. As
he re-assesses his career plans, Mr. Dong would benefit most from psychiatric care and vocational
guidance. Baranoski Evaluation, at 6. Those services can be most effectively provided through
probation and community supervision.
IV.

CONCLUSION
For all of the foregoing reasons, it is respectfully submitted that a sentence of time served

followed by the maximum period of supervised release, three years, is the appropriate penalty in this
case.

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Respectfully submitted,

THE DEFENDANT,
William Dong

Dated: January 20, 2015

FEDERAL DEFENDER OFFICE


/s/ Jennifer Mellon
Jennifer Mellon
Assistant Federal Defender
265 Church Street, Suite 702
New Haven, CT 06510
Phone: (203) 498-4200
Bar no.: ct27235
Email: jennifer_mellon@fd.org

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I HEREBY CERTIFY that on January 20, 2015, a copy of the foregoing Defendants
Memorandum in Aid of Sentencing was filed electronically and served by mail on anyone unable to
accept electronic filing. Notice of this filing will be sent to all parties by operation of the Courts
electronic filing system or by mail to anyone unable to accept electronic filing as indicated on the
Notice of Electronic Filing. Parties may access this filing through the Courts CM/ECF System.

/s/ Jennifer Mellon


Jennifer Mellon

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