United States v. Sarah Zeaiter

United States Court of Appeals For the Eighth Circuit ___________________________ No. 16-4066 ___________________________ United States of America lllllllllllllllllllllPlaintiff - Appellee v. Sarah Majid Zeaiter lllllllllllllllllllllDefendant - Appellant ___________________________ No. 16-4118 ___________________________ United States of America lllllllllllllllllllllPlaintiff - Appellee v. Ali Afif Al Herz lllllllllllllllllllllDefendant - Appellant ___________________________ No. 16-4555 ___________________________ United States of America lllllllllllllllllllllPlaintiff - Appellee v. Bassem Afif Herz lllllllllllllllllllllDefendant - Appellant ____________ Appeals from United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa - Cedar Rapids ____________ Submitted: January 9, 2018 Filed: June 11, 2018 ____________ Before WOLLMAN, COLLOTON, and BENTON, Circuit Judges. ____________ WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge. Ali Afif Al Herz (Ali), Bassem Afif Herz (Bassem), and Sarah Majid Zeaiter (collectively, defendants) pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate multiple firearms laws in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, conspiring to commit money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h), and exporting firearms and ammunition without a license in violation of 22 U.S.C. § 2778. Ali also pleaded guilty to being a domestic abuser in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). The district court1 sentenced Ali to 342 months’ imprisonment, Bassem to 97 months’ imprisonment, and Zeaiter to 87 months’ imprisonment, with each sentence to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Defendants challenge their sentences on various grounds. We affirm. 1 The Honorable Linda R. Reade, then Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. -2- I. Background Ali and Bassem dispute how this case began. According to Ali, Bassem recruited both Ali and Ali’s son, Adam Herz (Adam), to participate in a scheme to purchase and ship firearms to Lebanon for resale. According to Bassem, Adam initially approached Bassem with the idea who then suggested that they speak with Ali, because Ali previously had shipped firearms to Lebanon. Ultimately, the three men agreed to work together to carry out the operation. As part of the conspiracy, Ali and Bassem provided money to purchase the firearms, and Adam used his name for the shipping documents. Zeaiter, Bassem’s wife, also became involved and opened a bank account for the operation. On the forms she completed to open the account, she falsely claimed to be a United States citizen.2 All four individuals thereafter obtained permits that allowed them to procure firearms for private use. Ali and Bassem began purchasing firearms in December 2013, Adam began purchasing firearms in January 2014, and Zeaiter began purchasing firearms in June 2014. Ali and Adam also purchased skidloaders, in which the firearms were concealed during shipment. In March 2014, Ali shipped four skidloaders containing at least thirty firearms as well as ammunition to his residence in Lebanon. Ali, Adam, Bassem, and Zeaiter then traveled to Lebanon, where Ali sold the firearms. The 2 Zeaiter was born in Lebanon but came to the United States in 2013 as a lawful permanent resident. Ali was also born in Lebanon and came to the United States in 1984 on a student visa. He became ...

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