US v. Diosdado-Star: Diosdado-Star was deported in 2002 because he entered the country illegally. He was back within a month, using an alias that matched that of a Border Patrol agent who was under investigation for misconduct. The investigation led to Diosdado-Star, who was discovered to be posing as a Border Patrol agent to others seeking to remain in the country illegally. In the process, Diosdado-Star made about $177,000. When his home was searched, he admitted being a citizen of Mexico, the illegally reentering the US, and to impersonating an agent. As a result, Diosdado-Star was convicted of illegal reentry and possessing a counterfeit resident alien card. Although his advisory Guideline range was only four to 10 months, the district court varied and imposed a sentence of 84 months in prison.
Diosdado-Star appealed his sentence, which the Fourth Circuit affirmed. He first argued that the sentence was procedurally unreasonable, because the district court failed to consider a Guideline departure before imposing a variance sentence. The court disagreed, holding that (the method of deviation from the Guidelines range - whether by a departure or by varying - is irrelevant so long as at least one rationale is justified and reasonable." However, in a footnote, the court "offer[ed] no comment on the observation of several other circuit courts of appeal that the departure provisions of the Guidelines are obsolete." Diosdado-Star also argued that the sentence was substantively unreasonable. The court disagreed, holding that the district court's variance "while substantial,  does not constitute an abuse of discretion based on the totality of the circumstances."