March 1, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Illinois. No. 14-CR-30152-NJR-01 - Nancy J.
Posner, Sykes, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.
Hamilton, Circuit Judge.
Paulette helped found the Waverly Crips street gang in East
St. Louis, Illinois, during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
By 2012 he and the gang were trafficking large amounts of
drugs in the area. Before his luck ran out in 2014, Paulette
was leading the gang and managing its drug trade. He even
controlled the sale of illegal drugs in nearby Washington
Park, Illinois, and had many people working for him. Things
unraveled, though, after Paulette sold 105 grams of cocaine
to an informant during two controlled buys in May 2014. Two
months later, authorities were waiting when Paulette and
eight travel companions got off a train in St. Louis. They
were returning from a supply run to Texas. Seven of them were
carrying a total of 2.4 kilograms of cocaine in packages
concealed under their clothing.
eventually pled guilty to eight counts related to drug
trafficking and was sentenced to a total of 300 months in
prison. He appeals that sentence, focusing on the count
charging him with conspiracy to distribute controlled
substances in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and
841(a)(1). Paulette disputes the scope of the conspiracy and
argues that the district court, in calculating his
imprisonment range under the Sentencing Guidelines, wrongly
counted certain years of drug dealing as relevant conduct
under U.S.S.G. § 1B1.3. We affirm his sentence.
indictment charged that Paulette and nine others, along with
additional unnamed "persons known and unknown, "
had conspired to distribute controlled substances from
January 2007 to July 2014. The conspiracy count specifically
alleged that, in addition to heroin, the offense had involved
at least five kilograms of cocaine and no less than fifty
grams of methamphetamine. Despite pleading guilty, Paulette
refused to admit precise drug quantities. He also declined to
endorse the government's factual basis detailing its
position about the timeframe of the conspiracy and the people
involved. During the plea colloquy, Paulette said only that
he had "sold drugs" and "violated the
law." He did acknowledge, however, that in the event of
trial the government could produce evidence consistent with
its version of the facts. He also admitted in his plea
agreement that "the amount of cocaine that was involved
in the conspiracy ... was 5 kilograms or more, and the amount
of methamphetamine (actual) that was involved in the
conspiracy ... was 50 grams or more."
in the presentence report, the probation officer recounted
Paulette's long history of drug dealing, including with
persons not specifically identified in the indictment. That
history included Paulette's regular cocaine sales to
Lucille Brim from about May through November 2011, to Paul
Barnett from October 2011 through November 2012, and to Joe
Garcia in October 2012. Altogether Paulette had sold more
than 4.6 kilograms of cocaine to Brim, Barnett, and Garcia.
The probation officer also recapped Paulette's
methamphetamine dealings from this same timeframe. Paulette
had sold Barnett 396 grams of "ice, " a highly
purified form of methamphetamine, also known as crystal
methamphetamine, in several transactions between the summer
of 2012 and December 2012. Likewise, during most of 2012
Paulette had trafficked ice with Garcia and Marcus Lewis-more
than 1.5 kilograms total. Until September of that year,
Paulette had been delivering to Lewis directly, but then he
arranged for Garcia to begin supplying the ice. Garcia did so
until the following month when he was caught with a quantity
of ice and cocaine intended for Lewis and Paulette.
probation officer also detailed trafficking activity after
2012. That included the March 2013 search of Paulette's
house by police officers investigating reports of gunshots in
the area. Inside the house the officers found guns,
ammunition, and 2.5 grams of cocaine. Also covered in the
presentence report were Paillette's sales to Allen Henry,
a named co-conspirator. For three months in early 2014,
Paulette was providing cocaine to Henry every other day for a
total exceeding 2.4 kilograms. He also supplied 56 grams of
heroin to Henry over the course of four deals. And as
mentioned above, the activity included two controlled buys of
cocaine and the supply run to Texas in 2014.
calculating the quantity of drugs involved in the conspiracy,
the probation officer aggregated the cocaine, ice, and heroin
from transactions before 2013 involving Brim, Barnett,
Garcia, and Lewis. The probation officer also included
amounts from transactions in 2013 and 2014 involving Henry.
The probation officer included, too, drugs from the search of
Paulette's home, the amounts from the two controlled
buys, and the cocaine seized from Paulette's travel
companions in July 2014.
the probation officer concluded, Paulette had trafficked
approximately nine kilograms of cocaine, 56 grams of heroin,
and 1.9 kilograms of ice. These amounts add up to 40, 133
kilograms of "marijuana equivalent, " see U.S.S.G.
§ 2D1.1 cmt. n.8(B), and result in a base offense level
of 36. With a total offense level of 43 and a
criminal-history category of II, Paillette's guideline
sentence would be life in prison.
objected to including drug amounts from his transactions
before 2013 with Brim, Barnett, Garcia, and Lewis. He argued
that his trafficking activity with these individuals was not
part of or relevant to the charged conspiracy, which Paulette
insisted did not begin until 2013. His lawyer conceded at
sentencing, however, that Paulette's objection was
"general in nature, meant to preserve this record for
appellate purposes." The district court overruled the
objection, reasoning that Paulette's drug dealing with
those four people, which the court characterized as
"jointly undertaken criminal activity, " was
relevant conduct under U.S.S.G. § 1B1.3. The court found
that because the indictment charged a conspiracy running from
January 2007 to July 2014, "that is the offense of
conviction and anything back to then would be ...