Monday, April 29, 2013

Conviction Affirmed, Sentence Vacated In Crack Conspiracy Case

US v. Allen: Allen was involved in a large crack distribution operation in North Carolina.  Although he conceded that he had sold drugs to a member of the conspiracy, he denied being part of the conspiracy itself.  He was convicted of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine and sentenced to the then applicable mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

On appeal, Allen challenged his conviction and sentence.  As to his conviction, Allen first argued that the evidence showed two transactions, but not any involvement in the larger conspiracy.  The court disagreed, noting that the amount Allen sold, over such a short period of time, was certain to be distributed by the conspiracy.  Second, Allen argued that the district court erred by refusing to let him see the PSRs and sealed sentencing memoranda of others convicted in the conspiracy.  The court disagreed, holding that Allen's "conclusory" claims about what those document might reveal did not justify disclosure.  Third, Allen argued that the district court erred by not allowing him to present expert testimony to help explain the impact of the plea agreements entered into by other codefendants.  The court disagreed, concluding that expert testimony of that nature was not appropriate under the Federal Rules of Evidence.  As to Allen's sentence, the Fourth Circuit agreed that the Fair Sentencing Act applied and Allen was not subject to a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence.  It vacated the sentence and remanded.

No comments: