by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Appellant to a prison term of 240 months after Appellant pleaded guilty to transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, holding that there was no plain error in the judgment below. On appeal, Appellant claimed that the prosecutor engaged in various incidents of an alleged breach of the plea agreement during the disposition hearing. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) the waiver-of-appeal provision in the plea agreement did not apply to the sentence actually imposed by the district court; (2) the government's statement that it made a "sweetheart deal" to avoid exposing the victim to the rigors of trial did not breach the agreement; (3) the prosecutor did not breach the agreement by recounting the offense characteristics and explaining why those characteristics justified the prosecutor's recommended sentence; and (4) the prosecutor did not breach the agreement by undermining the foundation on which the the prosecutor's proposed sentence rested. View "United States v. Colon-Rosario" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence of sixty months' imprisonment imposed after Defendant pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a machine gun and to being a felon in possession of three firearms and ammunition, holding that there was no plain error in the imposition of the sentence. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court committed procedural error when it chose not to, before imposing its sentence, definitively determine whether the guidelines sentencing range (GSR) proposed in the presentence report or the guidelines calculation agreed to in the plea agreement was correct. Instead, the district court based its sentence on the other sentencing factors listed in 18 U.S.C. 3553(a). The First Circuit affirmed, holding that, in light of the district court's statements that the sentence would have been the same under any of the proposed GSRs, there was no prejudice. Further, the district court's rationale was plausible and led to a defensible sentence, and therefore, the sentence was not substantively flawed. View "United States v. Ortiz-Alvarez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of possessing child pornography, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motions to suppress the evidence. Defendant uploaded child pornography images to a digital album on Imgur, an image hosting website. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a report about the images from an anonymous tipster and informed law enforcement of the images. In his motions to suppress, Defendant argued that the evidence was obtained pursuant to a warrantless search by Imgur, acting at the instigation of NCMEC, and that the computer was searched pursuant to a warrant that lacked probable cause. The district court denied the motions. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining (1) Defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the images he uploaded to Imgur or in his internet protocol address, and (2) the state's warrant to search Defendant's computer was supported by probable cause. View "United States v. Morel" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, eight counts of health care fraud, six counts of aggravated identity theft, and four counts of furnishing false or fraudulent information in prescriptions for controlled substances, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's underlying convictions for aggravated identity theft; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial; (3) the district court correctly denied Defendant's third motion for a judgment of acquittal as to the charges of furnishing false or fraudulent information for prescriptions in controlled substances; (4) Defendant's sentence was not substantively unreasonable; and (5) Defendant's pro se challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence for his conspiracy and health care fraud convictions and argument that an aspect of the trial violated his Sixth Amendment rights failed. View "United States v. Tull-Abreu" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Plaintiffs' complaint against Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC for failure to state a claim, holding that First Circuit law barred Plaintiffs' claims. The district judge concluded that Fidelity was immune from suit based on an immunity provision in the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), 31 U.S.C. 5318(g)(3)(A). On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that Eleventh Circuit precedent, which holds that BSA immunity requires good faith dealing, applied because the case came to the First Circuit via a transfer order from a court in the Eleventh Circuit and that, even if First Circuit caselaw applied, Fidelity could not get BSA immunity. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) First Circuit law, rather than Eleventh Circuit law, governed this case; and (2) the First Circuit's opinion in Stoutt v. Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, 320 F.3d 26 (1st Cir. 2003), applied and gave Fidelity BSA immunity. View "AER Advisors Inc. v. Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Banking

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence to sixty months' imprisonment for illegal possession of a machine gun, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. The sentence imposed by the district court was above the applicable guidelines sentencing range but below the statutory maximum of ten years. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred in considering photographs found on Defendant's cell phone showing Defendant handling military-style assault weapons and in considering information about the pervasiveness of guns and gun violence in Puerto Rico. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in considering the photographs at issue or in considering the problem of gun violence in Puerto Rico; and (2) Defendant's five-year term of imprisonment was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Viloria-Sepulveda" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the decision of the district court accepting Defendant's straight guilty plea to the charging of illegal reentry of an alien who had previously been removed from the United States, 8 U.S.C. 1326(a), holding that the record permitted a conclusion that the plea had a rational basis in fact. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in accepting his plea because he did not "voluntarily" re-enter the United States, and therefore, his guilty plea lacked an adequate basis in fact and that the district court violated Fed. R. Crim. P. 11 by not ascertaining whether Defendant understood the elements of the crime charged. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the district court did not err in deciding to accept the plea and in determining that Defendant's guilty plea was knowing and intelligent. View "United States v. Mercedes Leon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence of ninety-seven months' imprisonment, holding that the district court did not err in calculating Defendant's criminal history category under the sentencing guidelines and that the sentence was procedurally reasonable. Defendant pled guilty to violations of 21 U.S.C. 846 and other crimes. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court committed procedural error when it counted a prior conviction in calculating his criminal history score because the prior conviction was "relevant conduct," that his sentence was procedurally unreasonable because it was disparately higher than the sentences of his co-defendants, and that the district court did not adequately state on the record why it chose to sentence him above the seventy-two months recommended by the plea agreement. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) Defendant's prior conviction was correctly counted as a prior sentence; (2) the district court adequately explained its reasoning for the sentence in open court; and (3) Defendant's disparity challenge was unavailing. View "United States v. Gonzalez-Barbosa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence for bank robbery, Hobbs Act robbery, and a related firearms offense, holding that Appellant's argument that the district court impermissibly considered Appellant's gender as a factor in the sentencing calculus was without merit. The district court sentenced Appellant to a total of 108 months of incarceration. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court (1) committed procedural error by failing to appreciate that it had discretion to consider the mandatory sentence on the firearms count when formulating the sentence for the grouped counts, and (2) violated his constitutional right to equal protection by engaging in gender stereotyping when formulating his sentence. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) the district court in this case did not commit the same procedural error that the Supreme Court condemned in Dean v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 1170, 1178 (2017); and (2) Appellant failed to make a plausible showing of any violation of his right to equal protection. View "United States v. Blewitt" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit dismissed without prejudice Appellant's appeal arguing that his firearms conviction and sentence violated double jeopardy protections, holding that the record as presented did not permit evaluation of Appellant's double jeopardy claim. Appellant pled guilty to conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1962(d), and to using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. On appeal, Appellant argued that his firearms conviction and sentence violated the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against double jeopardy because the conviction and sentence duplicated his prior conviction and sentence for a firearms offense under Puerto Rico law. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal because the record contained only the untranslated, Spanish-language judicial documentation of the Puerto Rico firearms convictions, which is inadequate by terms of the Jones Act, 48 U.S.C. 864. The Court, however, dismissed the appeal without prejudice to Appellant's right to raise his double jeopardy claim on the basis of translated records in future, collateral-review proceedings. View "United States v. Pacheco" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law