FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MAINE Hon. George Z. Singal, U.S. District Judge
J. Drake, with whom Drake Law, LLC was on brief, for
M. Lipez, Assistant United States Attorney, with whom Thomas
E. Delahanty II, United States Attorney, was on brief, for
Kayatta, Circuit Judge, Souter, Associate Justice, [*] and Selya, Circuit
sentencing appeal requires us to explore the intersection
between the right of a sentencing judge to receive
confidential advice from probation officers and the right of
a convicted defendant to know the nature of the information
upon which he is sentenced and to challenge its relevancy and
accuracy. Concluding, as we do, that the court below did not
plainly err by engaging in brief, off-the-record
conversations with a probation officer during the
appellant's sentencing, we affirm.
relevant facts and travel of the case can be succinctly
summarized. Defendant-appellant Daniel Bramley, a British
national, came to the attention of federal authorities during
a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wiretap investigation
into the operations of a drug-trafficking ring in and around
Portland, Maine. The investigation revealed the ringleader to
be one Robert Evon, and the DEA intercepted several
communications between Evon and the appellant in mid-2013.
Among other things, Evon requested that the appellant collect
"paperwork" from a coconspirator. The appellant
complied, retrieving a package that contained $25, 000 in
drug proceeds. He later accompanied Evon to Scarborough,
Maine; obtained twenty pounds of marijuana; and peddled some
of the marijuana in Vermont.
investigation progressed, the DEA obtained additional
information from a cooperating witness (who turned out to be
none other than Evon himself). Cf. William
Shakespeare, The First Part of King Henry the Fourth
act 2, sc. 2 (1597) ("A plague upon it when thieves
cannot be true one to another!"). We highlight this
additional information, mindful that the appellant disputes
much of it.
● Roughly ten years earlier, Evon procured sizeable
quantities of marijuana from the appellant on multiple
● In 2012, the appellant - acting as a middleman
-connected Evon with a marijuana source in Staten Island, New
● Either the same year or the next year, the appellant
arranged for Evon to obtain marijuana from yet another New
● Evon and the appellant subsequently met this second
supplier in San Francisco to acquire liquid LSD (which the
two men planned to sell in Vermont and Maine).
investigation reached its climax in March of 2014. At that
time, a federal grand jury sitting in the District of Maine
indicted the appellant on charges of conspiracy to distribute
and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, see
21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846; unlawful use of a
communication facility, see id. § 843(b); and
related criminal forfeitures, see id. § 853.
After initially maintaining his innocence, the appellant
entered a guilty plea to the ...