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Monday, May 05, 2008

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case

In UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. RODRIGO SOTO-PIEDRA and MIGUEL HERNANDEZ (SD Ind., Judge McKinney), a 12-page opinion, Judge Kanne writes:

Rodrigo Soto-Piedra and Miguel Hernandez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine. See 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1). Neither stipulated to a precise drug quantity when pleading guilty, and each now challenges his sentence. Soto contends that the district court exaggerated the drug quantity by relying almost exclusively on an informant’s estimate that the probation officer repeated in the presentence report. Hernandez maintains that the court overstated his base offense level on the mistaken assumption that he was involved with crack rather than powder cocaine. We reject Soto’s contention but agree with Hernandez that his case must be remanded. * * *

Actions of coconspirators that a particular defendant does not assist or agree to promote are generally not within the scope of that defendant’s jointly undertaken activity. * * * Hernandez contemplated the possibility of supplying Camarena with an unknown grade of powder cocaine, to be passed along by Camarena to an unknown customer with an unknown intention, and that is all that is shown by this record. The government put forth no evidence suggesting that converting the powder cocaine to crack was within the scope of Hernandez’s contemplated undertaking. To conclude otherwise would be simply speculation. Hernandez is entitled to be resentenced.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 5, 2008 11:24 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions