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United States v. Garza

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

April 3, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
PEDRO GARZA

Page 793

For Pedro Garza, Defendant: Robert W Gevers, II, LEAD ATTORNEY, The Law Offices of Robert W Gevers II, Fort Wayne, IN.

For Luis Juarez-Cabrera, Defendant: Michelle F Kraus, Fort Wayne, IN.

For United States of America, Plaintiff: Tina L Nommay, U.S. Attorney's Office - FW/IN, Fort Wayne, IN.

Page 794

OPINION AND ORDER

THERESA L. SPRINGMANN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

The Defendant, Pedro Garza, pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). An officer with the United States Probation Office prepared a Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) prior to the Defendant's sentencing. According to the PSR, under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, the Defendant's total offense level is 31, and his criminal history category is VI.

On February 26, 2015, the Defendant filed a Sentencing Motion, Objection to Pre-Sentence Report Findings, and Request for a Downward Variance [ECF No. 137]. The Defendant objects to the following guideline calculations as contained in the PSR: (1) a " career offender" designation, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b); (2) a two-level enhancement for obstructing or impeding the administration of justice, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1; and (3) a two-level enhancement for reckless endangerment during flight, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3C1.2. The Defendant also objects to the PSR's inclusion of certain juvenile adjudications. Lastly, the Defendant requests a downward variance from the advisory guideline range, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

For the reasons stated in this Opinion and Order, the Court will sustain the Defendant's objection to the enhancement for obstructing or impeding the administration of justice, and overrule the Defendant's objections to the enhancements for reckless endangerment during flight and his career offender designation, along with his objection to the PSR's inclusion of certain juvenile adjudications. The Court will also deny the Defendant's request for a downward variance from the advisory guideline range, finding that a guideline range of 188-235 months of imprisonment is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to satisfy the purposes of sentencing.

ANALYSIS

When sentencing a defendant, the district court " must first calculate the Guidelines range, and then consider what sentence is appropriate for the individual defendant in light of the statutory sentencing factors, 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)." Nelson v. United States, 555 U.S. 350, 351, 129 S.Ct. 890, 172 L.Ed.2d 719 (2009); see United States v. Panice, 598 F.3d 426, 441 (7th Cir. 2010) (citing Nelson, and setting forth the two-step process that a sentencing court must engage in to determine a defendant's sentence). When calculating the guideline range, " [a] district court may rely on facts asserted in the PSR if the PSR is based on sufficiently reliable information." United States v. Rollins, 544 F.3d 820, 838 (7th Cir. 2008). " The defendant bears the burden of proving that the PSR is inaccurate or unreliable," and if he offers no evidence to question the PSR's accuracy, the Court may rely on it. Id.

Here, the Guidelines assign 24 points as the base offense level for the Defendant's offense. U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c)(8). The probation officer added 2 points to the Defendant's offense level for obstructing or impeding the administration of justice and 2 points for reckless endangerment during flight, resulting in an adjusted offense level of 28. The probation officer also designated the Defendant as a career offender, resulting in an adjusted offense level of 34. U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b). The offense level was lowered by 3 points for acceptance of responsibility and for assisting authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the Defendant's own misconduct, see U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a-b),

Page 795

resulting in a total offense level of 31. Because the Defendant was designated as a career offender--and, alternatively, because he has a criminal history score of 13--his criminal history category is VI. The total offense level of 31 and criminal history category ...


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