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The First Circuit vacated Defendant’s sentence and remanded for resentencing, holding that the presentencing report erroneously applied an enhancement, but for which his United States Sentencing Guidelines range would have been lower. Defendant pleaded guilty to unlawful re-entry into the United States. The district court sentenced Defendant to a term of forty-two months in prison. On appeal, Defendant claimed for the first time that the district court’s application of a four-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2L1.2(b)(2)(D) was in error. Without the enhancement, Defendant’s Guidelines range would be thirty to thirty-seven months instead of forty-six to fifty-seven months. The First Circuit vacated the sentence, holding (1) application of the section 2L1.2(b)(2)(D) enhancement was a clear and obvious error that affected Defendant’s substantial rights; and (2) Defendant’s Guidelines range was more than a year higher than it should have been, and resentencing was clearly warranted. View "United States v. Romero" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit summarily affirmed Defendant’s 240-month incarcerative sentence, holding that the district court did not hold Defendant responsible for an incorrect drug quantity or improperly count two prior convictions when calculating Defendant’s criminal history score. Defendant entered a guilty plea, pursuant to a plea agreement, to conspiracy to distribute heroin, conspiracy to possess stolen firearms, and attempted witness tampering. The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentence, holding (1) the district court did not err as a matter of law in including in its calculation drugs that Defendant personally consumed; and (2) the sentencing court did not miscalculate Defendant’s criminal history score, thus placing him into certain criminal history category III. View "United States v. Pinkham" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Appellant’s conviction for wire fraud and his sentence, holding (1) Congress did not impliedly repeal the wire fraud statute, 18 U.S.C. 1343, as to prosecutions that also fall within the reach of the 1938 Wheeler-Lea Amendment to the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA), 15 U.S.C. 52-57; and (2) the remaining arguments raised by Appellant on appeal were without merit. Appellant pled guilty to wire fraud for selling non-prescription drug products via an online business. Appellant created and operated more than 1,500 websites containing altered clinical studies, fabricated testimonials, and false indicia of origin to induce customers to purchase his products. Appellant was sentenced to seventy-two months’ imprisonment. On appeal, Appellant argued that prosecutions such as his must be pursued exclusively by the Federal Trade Commission as false advertising cases. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) Appellant’s case was correctly pursued by the Department of Justice as a wire fraud case; (2) the district court correctly rejected Defendant’s defense as to intent to defraud; (3) the district court’s Guidelines calculation as to the loss amount was correct; and (4) Appellant’s sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Arif" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed in connection with Appellant’s convictions, holding that the district court’s application of a four-level leadership enhancement under U.S.S.G. 3B1.1(a) was proper and that the sentence was substantively reasonable. Appellant pleaded guilty to leading a large drug distribution conspiracy in Puerto Rico housing projects over a five-year period and to using and carrying a firearm in connection with that drug offense. At sentencing, the district court calculated a higher offense level than the plea agreement and imposed a longer total sentence. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was no error in assigning Appellant a four-level leadership enhancement; and (2) Appellant’s 228-month federal sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Morales-De Jesus" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentences imposed in connection with his convictions for possession ammunition as a convicted felon (the felon in possession case) and for possessing a machine gun (the machine gun case), holding that the sentences were both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant’s procedural challenges failed; (2) Defendant’s challenges to the calculation of his criminal history category in both cases failed; and (3) neither Defendant’s high-end guidelines sentence in the machine gun case nor his upwardly variant sentence in the felon in possession case was substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Caballero-Vazquez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of Defendants’ motions brought under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct their sentences, holding (1) the Rhode Island offense of assault with a dangerous weapon (A/BDW) does not constitute a violent felony under Armed Career Criminals Act’s (ACCA) force clause; and (2) therefore, Defendants no longer have the three predicate convictions necessary to support their original sentences. In their section 2255 motions, Defendants argued that, in light of Johnson v. United States (Johnson II), 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), their convictions for Rhode Island A/BDW, see R.I. Gen. Laws 11-5-2(a), no longer qualified as predicate convictions triggering the ACCA’s mandatory fifteen-year sentence, see 18 U.S.C. 924(e). The First Circuit agreed, concluding that Rhode Island A/BDW is not categorically a violent felony under the ACCA. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the assault form of Rhode Island A/BDW does not satisfy the force clause, and therefore, Rhode Island A/BDW is not a violent felony under ACCA. View "United States v. Rose" on Justia Law

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Although the district court did not err in its application of the United States Sentencing Guidelines in this case, the First Circuit exercised its discretion under United States v. Godin (Godin II), 522 F.3d 133 (1st Cir. 2008), and United States v. Ahrendt, 560 F.3d 69 (1st Cir. 2009), to vacate Defendant’s sentence and remand to give the district court the opportunity to consider the United States Sentencing Commission’s current policy position on who qualifies as a career offender. Appellant pleaded guilty to one count of federal armed robbery. At the sentencing hearing, the district court applied the career offender enhancement in the Guidelines, increasing Appellant’s guideline sentencing range to 188-235 months’ imprisonment. The court ultimately varied downward and sentenced Appellant to 132 months’ imprisonment. On appeal, Appellant asked the First Circuit to vacate his sentence in light of a recently enacted amendment to the Guidelines. The First Circuit vacated Appellant’s sentence, holding a remand for resentencing was proper to allow the district court the opportunity to consider the Sentencing Commission’s updated views. View "United States v. Frates" on Justia Law

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Florida attempted first-degree murder is a "violent felony" within the meaning of the elements clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to vacate his sentence. The court held that Florida attempted first-degree murder was a violent felony because it required the attempted use of physical force that was capable of causing pain or injury. In this case, defendant received an enhanced sentence under the Act because he was previously convicted of three violent felonies, including Florida attempted first-degree murder. Furthermore, defendant's prior convictions for Florida aggravated assault and Florida strong-arm robbery were also violent felonies. View "Hylor v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s conviction for first- and second-degree murder on an aiding-and-abetting theory. The Court held (1) even if it was error for the district court to admit into evidence Appellant’s statement to police, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the district court plainly erred by giving a no-adverse-inference instruction to the jury without Appellant’s consent, but the error was not prejudicial; and (3) assuming, without deciding, that the prosecutor committed misconduct during closing argument by “indirectly alluding” to Appellant’s failure to testify, the prosecutor’s argument was not prejudicial. View "State v. Johnson" on Justia Law

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Woodside, a Florida resident, participated in a 24-person conspiracy to distribute pain pills in Middle Tennessee. He pled guilty under 21 U.S.C. 841 and 846. The Sixth Circuit vacated his 170-month so that the district court might better explain the quantity of drugs attributable to him. On remand, the district court, without further hearing, imposed the same sentence and explained its reasoning—including the drug quantity on which it based Woodside’s sentence—in a written amended judgment. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting Woodside’s argument that the district court erred by not affording him a new sentencing hearing and violated 18 U.S.C. 3553(c) by not stating the new explanation for his sentence “in open court.” The limited remand did not entitle Woodside to a new sentencing hearing or new procedures. Even if the district court erroneously attributed to Woodside drugs sold by others, Woodside would still have been sentenced according to the same base-offense level; any error was therefore harmless. View "United States v. Woodside" on Justia Law