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United States v. Quinones-Melendez

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

July 1, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
JUAN G. QUIÑONES-MELÉNDEZ, Defendant, Appellant

As Corrected July 17, 2015.

Page 202

APPEALS FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. José Antonio Fusté, U.S. District Judge.

Rafael F. Castro Lang on brief for appellant.

Francisco A. Besosa-Martí nez, Assistant United States Attorney, Nelson Pérez-Sosa, Assistant United States Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, and Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.

Before Kayatta, Selya, and Barron, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 203

BARRON, Circuit Judge.

The defendant challenges his conviction and sentence for various gun crimes on a number of grounds. Finding no error, we affirm.

I.

On August 8, 2013, a federal grand jury in Puerto Rico indicted Juan G. Quiñones-Meléndez on one count of unlawfully possessing a machinegun, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(o). Roughly two weeks later, on August 21, 2013, another federal grand jury in Puerto Rico indicted Quiñones on two further counts: one count of unlawfully possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), and one count of aiding and abetting another individual, Orlando Mojica-Rodríguez, in the unlawful possession of automatic firearms, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(o). Quiñones subsequently pled guilty, in separate agreements, to the August 8 unlawful-possession count and the August 21 aiding-and-abetting count.

In the plea agreements, the parties agreed that Quiñones's base offense level was 22 and that Quiñones deserved a three-level reduction in his offense level based on acceptance of responsibility. The agreements contained no stipulation regarding Quiñones's criminal history category. The parties did agree, however, that they would recommend to the District Court the higher end of the applicable guidelines range depending on the criminal history category. The parties also stipulated that, although neither side would seek any further departures or variances from the guidelines limit, the government could argue that the sentences for the two pleaded-to offenses should run consecutively, and the defense could argue that the two sentences should run concurrently.

The probation office determined that Quiñones's criminal history fell into category II under the guidelines, leading to guidelines ranges of 33-41 months and 41-51 months, respectively, for each of Quiñones's offenses. At the sentencing hearing, both the government and the defense argued for the higher end of that range, but Quiñones argued for the sentences for each offense to run concurrently to one another, while the government argued for consecutive sentences for a total of 92 months. The District Court, at the end of the lengthy sentencing hearing, decided that neither the sentence recommended by the government nor the sentence recommended by the defense sufficiently accounted for the seriousness of the offense, the defendant's personal characteristics, the context in which the offenses were committed, and a number of other factors. The ...


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