Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The First Circuit upheld the finding of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that Petitioner was eligible for removal because third-degree larceny under Connecticut law is an aggravated felony. Removal proceedings were commenced against Petitioner on the basis that his conviction was for a “theft offense” within the meaning of 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43) (G) and was therefore an “aggravated felony” that rendered him eligible for removal. The BIA dismissed Petitioner’s appeal. The First Circuit upheld the BIA’s decision, holding that Petitioner’s Connecticut conviction is a conviction for a “theft offense” because the range of conduct sufficient to sustain a conviction for third-degree larceny under Connecticut law is not broader than that which constitutes a “theft offense” under the Immigration and Nationality Act. View "De Lima v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of one count of carjacking by shooting and killing the victim and sentencing him to 365 months of imprisonment. Defendant pled guilty to the charge pursuant to a plea agreement. On appeal, Defendant argued that the government breached the plea agreement by “paying lip service to its obligation to recommend a sentence no higher than 300 months” and that the district court imposed a sentence that was both procedurally and substantively unreasonable. The First Circuit held (1) the government did not breach the plea agreement because it never explicitly or implicitly sought a sentence higher than 300 months; and (2) the sentence imposed by the district court was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Ubiles-Rosario" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress certain evidence, including a loaded firearm found when law enforcement searched Defendant’s home. Defendant pleaded guilty to being a prohibited person in knowing possession of a firearm or ammunition, reserving his right to challenge the denial of his motion to suppress. The First Circuit held (1) the protective sweep of Defendant’s residence was not lawful in light of the circumstances surrounding Defendant’s arrest; and (2) therefore, the evidence that was recovered during and following the sweep should have been excluded as the illegal fruit of that sweep. View "United States v. Delgado-Perez" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the method and manner in which synthetic cathinone alpha-pyrrolidinopentiophenone (alpha-PVP), a drug not listed in the relevant tables incorporated in the sentencing guidelines, is converted into its equivalent for sentencing purposes. Here, the district court used a conversion metric grounded in its finding that methcathinone is the drug referenced in the sentencing guidelines that is most closely related to alpha-PVP. The court then imposed a downwardly variant sentence of seventy-two-months’ imprisonment. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) any error in the district court’s application of the sentencing guidelines was harmless; and (2) the sentencing court did not clearly err in determining that methcathinone was the controlled substance referenced in the sentencing guidelines that corresponds most closely to alpha-PVP. View "United States v. Giggey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of extortion under color of official right. Defendant was the former chief of police of the town of Lee, Massachusetts. The conviction stemmed from Defendant’s act of taking money from individuals accused of running a “house of ill repute” in return for a promise to halt their prostitution prosecution. Defendant appealed, arguing that the jury verdict must be overturned because he did not coerce the individuals into paying up, and without proof of coercion, he could not be guilty of extortion. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) where the government presents evidence that the government official received a payment under color of official right, it need not prove that the official induced the payment through fear; and (2) the government was not required to show that Defendant originated the idea for the payment rather than simply capitalizing on an idea suggested by one of those individuals. View "United States v. Buffis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of sixty months in prison and the restitution schedule set by the district court. After Defendant pled guilty to tax fraud, the district court sentenced Defendant to the highest possible sentence under the plea agreement entered into by the parties. After a separate restitution hearing, the district court ordered that Defendant pay almost $23 million in restitution. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) this court assumes appellate jurisdiction over all of Defendant’s claims; (2) Defendant’s sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable; and (3) the district court correctly rejected Defendant’s argument that his illegal scheme was not the but-for cause of investors’ losses. View "United States v. Olson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence in this criminal case. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pled guilty to possession of a firearm. The parties stipulated that the government would recommend a sentence at the middle of the applicable guideline range and that the applicable guideline range was thirty to thirty-seven months. The district court, however, imposed a sixty-month sentence, varying from the applicable guidelines range. Defendant appealed, challenging both the procedural and substantive reasonableness of his sentence. The First Circuit rejected Defendant’s arguments, holding that the district court did not commit procedural or substantive error. View "United States v. Pagan-Walker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s convictions, rendered after a jury trial, and sentences for conspiring to defraud the United States, stealing government property, and making material false statements in an application for disability benefits. The charges arose from a fraudulent scheme to obtain disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. The court held (1) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict; (2) any error in the admission into evidence of certain photos printed from Defendant’s Facebook page was harmless; and (3) the district court did not commit plain error in fashioning Defendant’s sentence. View "United States v. Dominguez-Figueroa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence that was seized from Defendant’s apartment pursuant to a warrant. While law enforcement agents were seeking the warrant, other agents entered Defendant’s apartment, detained the individuals present in the apartment, and while securing the premises came upon some of the evidence that was later seized. The district court denied Defendant’s motion on independent-source grounds, concluding that there was no evidence that either the warrant or the decision to seek the warrant was tainted by what the officers saw during the initial entry. The First Circuit agreed, holding (1) the warrant was not based on information gleaned from the warrantless seizure and sweep of Defendant’s apartment; and (2) the officers’ conduct did not rise to a level that might arguably justify a departure from the normal rules governing suppression. View "United States v. Dent" on Justia Law

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After a revocation hearing, Defendant, who violated the conditions of his supervised release, was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment, to be followed by two years of supervised release. Defendant was originally convicted for acting as an accessory after the fact to an armed credit union robbery and sentenced to a term of imprisonment, to be followed by supervised release subject to standard and special conditions. The sentence imposed upon Defendant after the revocation of his supervised release included the same previously imposed conditions. On appeal, Defendant challenged certain conditions of his supervised release sentence. The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence, holding that the district court committed no error, plain or otherwise, in fashioning Defendant’s sentence. View "United States v. Goodwin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law