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110th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                     110-69

======================================================================



 
EMERGENCY AND DISASTER ASSISTANCE FRAUD PENALTY ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2007

                                _______
                                

                  May 22, 2007.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Leahy, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                         [To accompany S. 863]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to which was referred the 
bill (S. 863) to amend title 18, United States Code, with 
respect to fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency 
funds, having considered the same, reports favorably thereon 
and recommends that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
  I.  Purpose and Summary.............................................1
 II.  Background and Need for the Legislation.........................2
III.  Discussion......................................................4
 IV.  Legislative History.............................................5
  V.  Vote of the Committee...........................................6
 VI.  Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion......................6
VII.  Cost Estimate...................................................7
VIII. Regulatory Impact Statement.....................................8

 IX.  Additional Views of Senator Sessions............................8
  X.  Changes in Existing Law........................................12

                         I. Purpose and Summary

    In response to concerns that the current provisions of 
title 18, United States Code, do not adequately address or 
deter fraud in connection with emergency and disaster 
assistance, Senator Sessions introduced S. 863, the ``Emergency 
and Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty Enhancement Act of 
2005,'' on March 13, 2007, with Senators Landrieu, Cornyn, 
Vitter, and Grassley as cosponsors. The bill makes it a 
specific crime to engage in fraud in connection with major 
disaster or emergency benefits, increases criminal penalties 
for engaging in mail or wire fraud during and in relation to a 
major disaster or emergency, and directs the United States 
Sentencing Commission to promulgate guidelines to provide for 
increased penalties for persons convicted of disaster or 
emergency benefit fraud.

              II. Background and Need for the Legislation

    Congress has appropriated approximately $62.3 billion in 
disaster assistance in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and 
Wilma. As of March 8, 2006, the Federal Emergency Management 
Agency's (FEMA) allocations for Katrina and Rita-related relief 
from the Disaster Assistance Fund totaled approximately $29.8 
billion. Of this amount, $13.45 billion has been allocated to 
human services including: unemployment assistance; crisis 
counseling; housing assistance; and various other needs of the 
victims. The remainder, approximately $16.4 billion, has been 
allocated for infrastructure, mitigation, general operations 
and the administration of field operations. These costs include 
expenditures for relief worker salaries, travel and 
transportation, as well as contracts for facilities, equipment, 
utilities, and other required services.
    Almost immediately after FEMA began making disaster 
assistance available to victims of the hurricanes, reports of 
fraud, misuse and abuse began to surface. These reports 
included allegations that recipients of disaster assistance had 
misused funds to purchase luxury goods, that non-eligible 
persons had applied for and received benefits, and that 
criminals had established phony Katrina-related websites to 
exploit those who wished to contribute to legitimate disaster 
assistance efforts.
    In June of 2006 the Government Accountability Office 
released a report to Congress detailing fraud and abuse of 
disaster recovery funds following Hurricane Katrina. The report 
found a host of fraudulent payments in connection with Katrina 
and Rita disaster relief, such as claims for properties that 
did not exist and the use of invalid Social Security Numbers to 
obtain fraudulent payments. The GAO estimated that $1 billion 
(16% of total) in improper or fraudulent payments had been made 
by FEMA at that time. The total price tag for the fraud 
committed after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is not yet known; 
but GAO investigators have testified that it will, at the very 
least, be in the billions of dollars.
    Senator Sessions observed:

          Billions of dollars in fraudulent payments is an 
        insult to the victims of these natural disasters and an 
        insult to the ultimate victim in this fraud, the 
        American taxpayer. Natural disasters and emergency 
        situations often create an opportunity for unscrupulous 
        individuals to take advantage of both the immediate 
        victims of the disaster or emergency, as well as those 
        who offer financial and other assistance to the 
        victims. The American people are extremely generous in 
        responding to disasters, but they should not be 
        expected to tolerate the fraud of those who deceitfully 
        exploit their generosity.

    In response to increased instances of fraud following the 
hurricanes, the Attorney General announced the formation of the 
Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force on September 8, 2005. The 
Task Force is comprised of representatives from the Departments 
of Justice, Homeland Security, and Treasury, the Federal Bureau 
of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission, Securities and 
Exchange Commission, other federal partners, as well as 
representatives of State and local law enforcement. As of 
January 3, 2007, the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force had 
charged 525 individuals in 445 indictments brought in 35 
judicial districts around the country with various hurricane 
fraud-related crimes, including fraud, identity theft, theft of 
federal funds and public corruption.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ By contrast, the cases for fraud in connection with the efforts 
in Iraq and Afghanistan in which hundreds of billions have been devoted 
over the last four years amount to only 25 individuals in eight cases 
in four judicial districts.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Although many of the cases prosecuted by the Hurricane 
Katrina Task Force involved false or fraudulent claims for a 
few thousand dollars in FEMA benefits, other more elaborate and 
costly schemes have surfaced. For instance, the United States 
Attorney for the Northern District of Texas charged a Red Cross 
volunteer and his sister with theft of over 100 Red Cross debit 
cards used to obtain over $230,000 in benefits from the charity 
intended for Katrina Victims. The defendants used proceeds from 
these debit cards to purchase vehicles, jewelry and clothing 
for themselves, family members and friends.
    In another case, a grand jury in the Southern District of 
Texas returned a 39-count indictment against the owner of a 
Galveston, Texas hotel charging him with filing fraudulent 
claims with FEMA for over $232,000 in Short-Term Lodging 
reimbursements. According to the indictment, the fraudulent 
conduct included filing claims for payment for rooms in the 
name of hurricane evacuees who had never stayed at the hotel, 
rooms in the name of supposed evacuees when the rooms were 
occupied by paying guests with different names, and multiple 
rooms in the name of a single guest when the guest occupied 
fewer rooms than billed.
    Despite efforts by federal, State and local law enforcement 
to prosecute emergency and disaster benefits schemes wherever 
and whenever they occur, it persists. In February 2006 alone, 
the Department of Justice announced 15 indictments, three 
guilty pleas, and two convictions for Hurricane Katrina or 
Rita-related disaster fraud. In March 2006, the Department 
charged or indicted another 14 individuals for Katrina-related 
fraud and obtained four guilty pleas. By January 2007 the 
number of individuals charged with hurricane fraud-related 
crimes had grown to 525, and this number continues to grow.
    The bill will send a strong message that disaster relief 
crime is a serious crime. The Department of Justice has written 
that the bill would ``provide important prosecutorial tools in 
the government's efforts to combat fraud associated with 
natural disasters and other emergencies.'' Last June, the 
Department wrote:

          [These provisions] will help the Department address 
        natural disasters and will send a strong signal that 
        exploiting the kindness of Americans in times of crisis 
        is a serious crime that will be treated with 
        appropriate severity. The new criminal fraud statute 
        that will be created by the Act, as well as the 
        enhanced penalties for disaster fraud, will help ensure 
        that the victims of these terrible disasters, and 
        members of the American public who generously reach out 
        to help those victims, are not preyed upon by criminals 
        attempting to profit from these disasters and 
        emergencies.

    The bill is an effort to prevent and prosecute disaster 
relief fraud in the aftermath of emergencies and disasters.
    In March 2007, tornadoes killed at least 20 people in the 
Southeast and Midwest and damaged or destroyed hundreds of 
homes from Minnesota to the Gulf Coast. The loss of eight 
Alabama children at Enterprise High School was especially 
heartbreaking. The President declared Enterprise, Alabama, a 
federal disaster area and the Federal Emergency Management 
Agency (FEMA) declared several other damaged counties in 
Alabama eligible for Individual Disaster Assistance. This means 
the storm victims the affected Alabama counties will 
potentially be eligible to receive thousands of dollars in 
federal aid.
    We want to help ensure that federal money goes to the right 
people and does not get stolen by criminals posing as victims. 
Congress wants to provide appropriate recovery and relief 
resources to affected States, and also ensure that these 
resources are protected and distributed only to the real 
victims--not to individuals seeking to take advantage of the 
disaster.

                            III. Discussion

    The goal of the bill is to protect the real victims of 
disasters like Hurricane Katrina by specifically making it a 
crime under the existing fraud chapter of title 18 (18 U.S.C. 
Sec. Sec. 1001-1039) to fraudulently obtain emergency disaster 
funds. The bill creates a new federal crime specifically 
related to emergency and disaster relief fraud by amending 
title 18. In addition to creating a new federal crime that 
specifically prohibits fraud in connection with any emergency 
or disaster benefit (including federal assistance or private 
charitable contributions), the bill also increases criminal 
penalties for engaging in mail or wire fraud following a major 
disaster or emergency by updating the current mail and wire 
fraud statutes found in chapter 63 of title 18. (18 U.S.C. 
Sec. Sec. 1341 and 1343). The bill changes the federal mail and 
wire fraud statutes by applying the 30-year maximum penalties 
that are currently reserved for cases involving fraud against 
financial institutions to cases involving emergency or disaster 
relief fraud.
    Senator Sessions has observed:

          The fact is, some people think in a disaster they can 
        run in and make any kind of bogus claim they desire--
        that money will be given to them and people will be too 
        busy to check. And if they do, nothing is ever going to 
        happen to them. We need to completely reverse that 
        mentality. We need to create a mindset on the part of 
        everybody that these disaster relief funds are sacred; 
        that they are for the benefit of people who have 
        suffered loss, and only people who have suffered loss 
        should gain benefit of it. We need to make it clear 
        that those who steal that money are going to be 
        prosecuted more vigorously and punished more severely 
        than somebody who commits some other kind of crime 
        because I think it is worse to steal from the 
        generosity of the American people who intended to help 
        those in need.

    Senator Landrieu has noted:

          People who commit fraud in a disaster situation 
        should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 
        . . . It is equivalent to taking money directly from 
        the hurricane victims who lost their homes, businesses, 
        schools and communities. It inhibits our recovery. This 
        legislation puts the remedies and penalties in place 
        without creating obstacles for those rightly seeking 
        federal assistance following a disaster.

    Senator Cornyn has noted:

          We must send a message that the actions of those who 
        may defraud the government or otherwise illegally 
        obtain a portion of these funds will not be tolerated. 
        The Emergency and Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty 
        Enhancement Act will say to those who may be thinking 
        about illegally cutting corners or outright stealing 
        disaster funds whether by fraud, theft or embezzlement 
        that they will be caught, prosecuted and imprisoned.

                        IV. Legislative History

    On March 13, 2007, Senators Sessions, Landrieu and others 
introduced S. 863, the Emergency and Disaster Assistance Fraud 
Penalty Enhancement Act of 2007.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\ On June 21, 2006, Senator Jeff Sessions introduced S. 3547, the 
Emergency and Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty Enhancement Act of 
2005, which was an earlier version of the bill. That legislation was 
cosponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Senator John Cornyn (R-
TX), Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Senator David Vitter (R-LA), and 
Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH). That bill was referred to the Committee on 
the Judiciary. The Committee took no action on the bill in the 109th 
Congress. The Department of Justice sent a letter to the Chairman of 
the Committee on June 30, 2006 supporting the legislation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In connection with the bill introduction, Senator Sessions 
said:

          After an emergency or disaster, such as the recent 
        tornadoes that devastated the city of Enterprise in my 
        home State, we should do everything we can to make sure 
        100 percent of the relief funds gets into the hands of 
        real victims. Taxpayers should not sustain a financial 
        loss at the hands of scam artists, and these wrongdoers 
        should not profit from exploiting the victims of 
        horrific events. Common sense requires that those who 
        deceive the government and obtain emergency disaster 
        funds by fraud be subject to criminal punishment. As a 
        former federal prosecutor, I've been there in the 
        aftermath of hurricanes and tornadoes and I've seen 
        such fraud and abuse first hand. Our resources are not 
        unlimited, and it's critical that we ensure that every 
        relief dollar goes to legitimate storm victims. It's 
        important that we give prosecutors the tools they need 
        to protect these victims as well as the American 
        taxpayer.

    Senator Vitter stated:

          It sickens me that some people abused the tragedy of 
        many good people of the Gulf Coast who desperately 
        needed relief funds and the kindness of the American 
        taxpayer. This bill creates federal crimes for 
        fraudulent abuse of emergency funds and increases the 
        penalties on these violations to reduce the likelihood 
        of these relief programs being undermined.

    After Senators Sessions, Landrieu and others introduced S. 
863, the Emergency and Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty 
Enhancement Act of 2007, in the 110th Congress, on March 13, 
the bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and 
Chairman Leahy placed the bill on the Executive Business 
Meeting agenda for March 15, 2007.

                        V. Vote of the Committee

    On March 15, 2007, the Committee on the Judiciary, with a 
quorum present, met and considered S. 863, the Emergency and 
Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty Enhancement Act of 2007. The 
Committee approved the bill, without amendment, by voice vote, 
with no objection noted, and ordered the bill to be reported 
favorably to the full Senate.

             VI. Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion


Section 1. Short title

    The ``Emergency and Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty 
Enhancement Act of 2007.''

Sec. 2. Fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits

    Section 2 creates a new 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1040 to provide a 
new crime of fraud in connection with major disaster or 
emergency benefits. Section 1040 would prohibit fraud ``in any 
matter involving any benefit authorized, transported, 
transmitted, transferred, disbursed or paid in connection with 
a major disaster or emergency declaration,'' or in connection 
with any Federal Government contract related to such 
declarations, as long as the benefit was authorized or paid in 
interstate commerce, transported in the mail, or is a record, 
payment, money or other thing of value of the United States. 
Violations of this section would be punishable by fines up to 
$250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for an organization, 
imprisonment of up to 30 years, or both.

Sec. 3. Increased criminal penalties for engaging in wire, radio, and 
        television fraud during and relation to a presidentially 
        declared major disaster or emergency

    Section 3 increases the penalties available for wire fraud 
(18 U.S.C. Sec. 1343) that occur in connection with major 
disaster or emergency declarations. Current law provides that 
violations of the wire fraud statute (18 U.S.C. Sec. 1343) are 
punishable by fines up to $250,000 for an individual or 
$500,000 for an organization, or up to 20 years in prison. If 
the violation involves a financial institution, the maximum 
penalty is increased to 30 years in prison. This section adds 
fraud occurring ``in relation to, or involving any benefit 
authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed or 
paid in connection with a major disaster or emergency'' to the 
30-year maximum now applicable only to financial institution 
fraud.

Sec. 4. Increased criminal penalties for engaging in mail fraud during 
        and relation to a presidentially declared major disaster or 
        emergency

    Section 4 increases the penalties available for mail fraud 
(18 U.S.C. Sec. 1341) that occur in connection with major 
disaster or emergency declarations. Current law (18 U.S.C. 
Sec. 1341) provides that violations of the mail fraud statute 
are punishable by fines up to $250,000 for an individual or 
$500,000 for an organization, or up to 20 years in prison. If 
the violation involves a financial institution, the maximum 
penalty is increased to 30 years in prison. This section adds 
fraud occurring ``in relation to, or involving any benefit 
authorized, transported, transmitted, transferred, disbursed, 
or paid in connection with a presidentially declared major 
disaster or emergency'' to the 30-year maximum now applicable 
only to financial institution fraud.

Sec. 5. Directive to Sentencing Commission

    Section 5 directs the United States Sentencing Commission 
to promulgate sentencing guidelines, or amend the existing 
guidelines to provide for increased penalties for fraud or 
theft offenses committed in connection with a major disaster or 
emergency declaration. Section 5 also directs the Commission to 
submit to the Committees on the Judiciary any guidelines 
changes accompanied by an explanation and any additional policy 
recommendations for combating emergency or disaster fraud.
    This section identifies several requirements for the 
Sentencing Commission, including assuring reasonable 
consistency with other relevant directives and guidelines, 
accounting for any circumstances that might justify exceptions, 
and making any necessary conforming changes to the sentencing 
guidelines. Section 5 also provides emergency authority for the 
Sentencing Commission to promulgate the guidelines or 
amendments and a deadline of not later than 30 days after the 
enactment of S. 863.

                           VII. Cost Estimate

                                                    March 21, 2007.
Hon. Patrick J. Leahy,
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 863, the Emergency 
and Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty Enhancement Act of 2007.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Mark 
Grabowicz.
            Sincerely,
                                                   Peter R. Orszag.
    Enclosure.

S. 863--Emergency and Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty Enhancement Act 
        of 2007

    CBO estimates that implementing S. 863 would have no 
significant cost to the federal government. Enacting the bill 
could affect direct spending and revenues, but CBO estimates 
that any such effects would not be significant.
    S. 863 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    S. 863 would establish a new federal crime for the 
commission of certain fraudulent acts relating to benefits 
distributed after major disasters or emergencies. Because the 
bill would establish a new offense, the government would be 
able to pursue cases that it otherwise would not be able to 
prosecute. We expect that S. 863 would apply to a relatively 
small number of offenders, however, so any increase in costs 
for law enforcement, court proceedings, or prison operations 
would not be significant. Any such costs would be subject to 
the availability of appropriated funds.
    Because those prosecuted and convicted under S. 863 could 
be subject to criminal fines, the federal government might 
collect additional fines if the legislation is enacted. 
Criminal fines are recorded as revenues, then deposited in the 
Crime Victims Fund and later spent. CBO expects that any 
additional revenues and direct spending would not be 
significant because of the small number of cases likely to be 
affected.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Mark Grabowicz. 
This estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                   VIII. Regulatory Impact Statement

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b)(1), rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee, after due 
consideration, concludes that S. 863 will not have a 
significant regulatory impact.

                IX. Additional Views of Senator Sessions

    It is clear that current criminal penalties are 
insufficient to deter disaster fraud. The increasing number of 
indictments from the direct aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and 
Rita through today illustrates this problem. The Justice 
Department is aggressively prosecuting these criminals, but 
they have asked Congress for additional tools so that the 
federal statutes adequately address and deter fraud in 
connection with emergency and disaster assistance.
    The bill will send a strong message that disaster relief 
fraud is a serious crime. Importantly, the increased penalties 
will help to deter this kind of fraud. Exploiting the kindness 
of the American people in times of crisis is a serious crime 
that will be treated with appropriate severity. We will not 
tolerate criminals stealing from the pockets of disaster 
victims. We must ensure that victims and the generous members 
of the American public are not preyed upon by criminals 
attempting to profit from these disasters and emergencies.
    The Department of Justice announced its strong support for 
this legislation by letter to the Chairman of the Committee on 
April 25, 2007. The Justice Department's Views Letter raises a 
number of important points, and I include the letter as an 
attachment to this statement.
                                                     Jeff Sessions.


                       X. Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by 
S. 863, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italic, and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

TITLE 18, UNITED STATES CODE

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



PART I--CRIMES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



                 CHAPTER 47--FRAUD AND FALSE STATEMENTS

Sec.
1001.  Statements or entries generally.
          * * * * * * *
1040.  Fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency benefits.
          * * * * * * *

Sec. 1040. Fraud in connection with major disaster or emergency 
                    benefits

  (a) Whoever, in a circumstance described in subsection (b) of 
this section, knowingly--
          (1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, 
        scheme, or device any material fact; or
          (2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or 
        fraudulent statement or representation, or makes or 
        uses any false writing or document knowing the same to 
        contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent 
        statement or representation,

in any matter involving any benefit authorized, transported, 
transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with 
a major disaster declaration under section 401 of the Disaster 
Relief Act of 1974, or an emergency declaration under section 
501 of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, or in connection with 
any procurement of property or services related to any 
emergency or disaster declaration as a prime contractor with 
the United States or as a subcontractor or supplier on a 
contract in which there is a prime contract with the United 
States, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not 
more than 30 years, or both.
  (b) The circumstance to which subsection (a) of this section 
refers is that--
          (1) the authorization, transportation, transmission, 
        transfer, disbursement, or payment of the benefit is in 
        or affects interstate or foreign commerce;
          (2) the benefit is transported in the mail at any 
        point in the authorization, transportation, 
        transmission, transfer, disbursement, or payment of 
        that benefit; or
          (3) the benefit is a record, voucher, payment, money, 
        or thing of value of the United States, or of any 
        department or agency thereof.
  (c) In this section, the term ``benefit'' means any record, 
voucher, payment, money or thing of value, good, service, 
right, or privilege provided by the United States, State or 
local government, or other entity.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 63--MAIL FRAUD

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *



Sec. 1341. Frauds and swindles

  Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or 
artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by 
means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or 
promises, or to sell, dispose of, loan, exchange, alter, give 
away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful 
use any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or 
other article, or anything represented to be or intimated or 
held out to be such counterfeit or spurious article, for the 
purpose of executing such scheme or artifice or attempting so 
to do, places in any post office or authorized depository for 
mail matter, any matter or thing whatever to be sent or 
delivered by the Postal Service, or deposits or causes to be 
deposited any matter or thing whatever to be sent or delivered 
by any private or commercial interstate carrier, or takes or 
receives therefrom, any such matter or thing, or knowingly 
causes to be delivered by mail or such carrier according to the 
direction thereon, or at the place at which it is directed to 
be delivered by the person to whom it is addressed, any such 
matter or thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned 
not more than 20 years, or both. If the violation occurs in 
relation to, or involving any benefit authorized, transported, 
transmitted, transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection 
with, a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency, or 
affects a financial institution, such person shall be fined not 
more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or 
both.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 1343. Fraud by wire, radio, or television

  Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or 
artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by 
means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or 
promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of 
wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or 
foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or 
sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, 
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 
years, or both. If the violation occurs in relation to, or 
involving any benefit authorized, transported, transmitted, 
transferred, disbursed, or paid in connection with, a 
presidentially declared major disaster or emergency, or affects 
a financial institution, such person shall be fined not more 
than $1,000,000 or imprisoned not more than 30 years, or both.

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *