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United States v. Ortiz

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 12, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
REYNALDO ORTIZ, Defendant-Appellant

Argued October 30, 2014.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 1:11-cr-00686-1 -- Robert W. Gettleman, Judge.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee (13-3748): Peter Salib, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Reynaldo Ortiz, also known as: Rey, Defendant - Appellant (13-3748): Jeffrey J. Levine, Chicago, IL.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee (14-1300): Peter Salib, Attorney, Office of The United States Attorney, Chicago, IL.

For Reynaldo Ortiz, also known as: Rey, Defendant - Appellant (14-1300): Jeffrey J. Levine, Chicago, IL.

Before WILLIAMS, TINDER, and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Tinder, Circuit Judge.

Reynaldo Ortiz pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess heroin with the intent to distribute, see 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a)(1), 846,

Page 965

and received the statutory minimum prison sentence of 120 months. He argues that his cooperation with law enforcement after his arrest qualified him for " safety valve" relief from the statutory minimum. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f); U.S.S.G. § 5C1.2. The district court decided, however, that Ortiz's cooperation did not amount to the full and truthful proffer of information required for application of the safety valve. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

In September 2011, a confidential informant reported to agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that Ortiz and his wife Linda Vargas-Jurado had offered the informant $10,000 to drive a truck containing drugs from the Mexican border to Chicago. The informant refused to travel to Mexico but agreed to transport the truck from Texas for $5,000. Ortiz then provided the informant with $1,000 for general travel expenses and the purchase of a cell phone and an airplane ticket to Texas. In cooperation with federal agents, the informant completed the trip from Texas to Chicago and delivered the truck to DEA possession. DEA agents found two kilograms of heroin hidden in a fire extinguisher inside the truck.

When Ortiz and Vargas-Jurado did not hear from the informant on his arrival as planned, they began a frantic search for the informant and the truck. On September 30, 2011, at the same time DEA agents were searching the truck, Vargas-Jurado called the informant to ask where he was and told him that she needed the truck to deliver it, but did not disclose to whom it was to be delivered. Then, on October 2, Ortiz visited the residence of the informant's family and told them that he and his wife needed the truck immediately. Ortiz insists that no threats were made, though the government maintains otherwise. The same day, Vargas-Jurado drove the couple's 16-year-old son and one of his friends to an area where the informant lived, and the friend shot someone matching the informant's description (but actually an innocent bystander) multiple times. The next day, October 3, the informant called Ortiz and Vargas-Jurado under the supervision of DEA agents and reported that he had been arrested. Ortiz told the informant that he could see the truck in a police parking lot, and officers confirmed that Ortiz and ...


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