776 Fed.Appx. 304 (6th Cir. 2019), 18-3922, United States v. Kroffke

Docket Nº:18-3922
Citation:776 Fed.Appx. 304
Opinion Judge:CLAY, Circuit Judge.
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Matthew KROFFKE, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Scott C. Zarzycki, Office of the U.S. Attorney, Cleveland, OH, for Plaintiff-Appellee Jeffrey B. Lazarus, Federal Public Defender’s Office, Cleveland, OH, for Defendant-Appellant
Judge Panel:BEFORE: COLE, Chief Judge; SILER and CLAY, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:June 06, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

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776 Fed.Appx. 304 (6th Cir. 2019)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Matthew KROFFKE, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 18-3922

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

June 6, 2019


Editorial Note:

Please Refer Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure Rule 32.1. See also U.S.Ct. of App. 6th Cir. Rule 32.1.

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Scott C. Zarzycki, Office of the U.S. Attorney, Cleveland, OH, for Plaintiff-Appellee

Jeffrey B. Lazarus, Federal Public Defender’s Office, Cleveland, OH, for Defendant-Appellant

BEFORE: COLE, Chief Judge; SILER and CLAY, Circuit Judges.


CLAY, Circuit Judge.

Defendant Matthew Kroffke appeals the sentence imposed by the district court following Kroffke’s pleading guilty to armed bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and (d), and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). We find that the district court’s sentence, which fell at the bottom end of the guidelines range, was both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Accordingly, we affirm the district court.


On March 28, 2018, the grand jury returned a two-count indictment against Kroffke, charging him with armed bank robbery and brandishing a weapon during a crime of violence. Kroffke pleaded guilty to both counts without a plea agreement. In preparation for sentencing, probation filed a Presentence Investigation Report ("PSI"). The PSI determined that Kroffke’s Criminal History Category was I. The PSI calculated Kroffke’s total offense level for Count 1 as 19, resulting in a guidelines range of 30 to 37 months of imprisonment, and found that Count 2 triggered a statutory mandatory minimum term of 84 months of imprisonment, to run consecutively to any sentence imposed for Count 1. After combining the 30 to 37 month guideline range for Count 1 and the 84-month mandatory minimum term for Count 2, Kroffke faced a guideline prison term of 114 to 121 months.

Kroffke filed a sentencing memorandum in which he asked the district court to vary

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downward from the guidelines range and impose an 84-month sentence. Kroffke argued that mitigating personal circumstances warranted a downward variance. He stated that he had a long employment history and had lived a law-abiding life until he began experiencing debilitating hip pain in June of 2016. The hip pain forced him to take a leave of absence from his employment as a carpenter, caused him to move back in with his parents to receive proper medical care, and ultimately necessitated surgery, which confined him to bed for approximately six months. Kroffke’s injury coincided with his wife’s filing for divorce and leaving him for another man, who moved into the house Kroffke had shared with his wife and three children. According to Kroffke, these unfortunate events plunged him into a deep depression, caused him to suffer severe anxiety, and precipitated his robbing a bank at gunpoint out of desperation. Kroffke additionally argued that a downward variance was warranted because he continues to experience severe hip pain and because the government exercised its discretion to charge him with Count 2, which carried an 84-month mandatory minimum sentence. Kroffke filed eighteen letters in support along with his sentencing memorandum. The government also filed a sentencing memorandum in which it requested that the district court impose a sentence within the guidelines range.

The district court held a sentencing hearing on September 21, 2018. The court stated that, according to the PSI, Kroffke’s guidelines range was 114 to 121 months. Kroffke and the government agreed that this was the correct guidelines range. The court then stated that it "read carefully the defendant’s sentencing memorandum, the government’s sentencing memorandum, and the victim impact statements that were provided." (R. 37 at 3:20-23.) Next, the court heard from Kroffke’s counsel, who reiterated the arguments articulated in Kroffke’s sentencing memorandum and requested a downward variance and an 84-month sentence. The court then heard from Kroffke, who apologized to his family, his former wife, and the four women who were in the bank when he committed the armed robbery, explained that he was "desperate, sick, and not thinking clearly" on the day of the crime, and asked the court for leniency. (Id. at 11:9-13:3.) The court next heard from the government, which argued for a guidelines range sentence, emphasizing the seriousness of the offense, Kroffke’s purported problems with drugs and alcohol abuse, and the need to protect the public and deter future criminal conduct. The court also heard statements from two women who were working as tellers at the bank when Kroffke robbed it at gunpoint.

Next, the court imposed sentence. The court began by stating that it had reviewed the PSI, the sentencing memoranda, the letters Kroffke had provided in support of his request for a variance, and the victim impact statements, and had considered all of the testimony provided in court. The court then stated that the "touchstone of sentencing is 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)." (Id. at 22:7.) The court explained that, when sentencing Kroffke, it must "consider everything [it] can learn" about him and his crimes, compute and consider the guidelines range, and ultimately impose "a sentence that is sufficient but not longer than necessary to accomplish the four statutory purposes of sentencing: [p]unishment, deterrence, protecting the community, and rehabilitation." (Id. at 22:11-14.) The district court then found that "a sentence within the advisory range is sufficient but not greater than necessary" to accomplish these goals, and sentenced Kroffke to 114 months, the lowest

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end of the guideline range. (Id. at 22:16-19.)

The district court explained that it had "considered carefully" Kroffke’s argument for a downward variance, but had concluded that "if I went to 84 months," as Kroffke had requested, "I would be giving no credit or punishment or deterrence for not just a robbery and not just an armed robbery, but a very vicious and terrifying one...." (Id. at 22:20-25.) The district court stated that Kroffke had "sadly changed the lives of all those women, and not for the better," and explained that while it recognized "the physical pain and the anguish [Kroffke was] suffering for over two years" when he committed the crime, the court nonetheless could not understand why Kroffke would think that "terroriz[ing] and traumatiz[ing] four people and put[ing] them in fear of their lives" was a "good solution." (Id. at 23:1-8.) After providing this explanation, the court found that its chosen sentence of 114 months of imprisonment was "sufficient but not longer than necessary." (Id. at 23:8-9.)

After the court imposed sentence, Kroffke objected to the court’s declining to grant him a downward variance. This appeal followed.


A. Introduction

We review a defendant’s sentence for reasonableness under an abuse-of-discretion standard. United States v. Donadeo, 910 F.3d 886, 893 (6th Cir. 2018) (citing United States v. Jeross, 521 F.3d 562, 569 (6th Cir. 2008)). Reasonableness has two components: procedural and substantive. Id. (citing United States v. Keller, 498 F.3d 316, 322 (6th Cir. 2007)).

Kroffke contends that his sentence violates both procedural and substantive reasonableness. Kroffke argues that his sentence is procedurally unreasonable because the district court failed to adequately explain its reasons for denying Kroffke’s request for a downward variance and for ultimately imposing a sentence of 114 months of imprisonment. Kroffke also asserts that his sentence is substantively unreasonable because the district court failed to sufficiently consider the § 3553(a) factors.

B. The District Court Did Not Abuse Its...

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