United States v. Bridges, 111811 FED3, 09-4444

Docket Nº:09-4444
Opinion Judge:POLLAK, District Judge.
Judge Panel:Before: SLOVITER and GREENAWAY, Jr., Circuit Judges, , and POLLAK, District Judge.
Case Date:November 18, 2011
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit




No. 09-4444

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

November 18, 2011


Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) October 26, 2011.

On Appeal from the United States District Court For the District of New Jersey (D.C. Criminal Action No. 07-cr-000115) Honorable Peter G. Sheridan, District Judge.

Before: SLOVITER and GREENAWAY, Jr., Circuit Judges, , and POLLAK, District Judge.[*]


POLLAK, District Judge.

Appellant Nyron Bridges challenges the reasonableness of his 188-month sentence following entry of a guilty plea for distribution and possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of crack cocaine. We will affirm.


A federal grand jury charged Bridges and six co-defendants in a seven-count indictment alleging, inter alia, that Bridges and his co-defendants were members of two New Jersey subgroups of the Crips street gang that conspired to distribute controlled substances in Essex County, New Jersey. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Bridges pleaded guilty to Count Six of the indictment, which charged him with distribution and possession with intent to distribute five grams or more of crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2.

The Presentence Investigation Report found that Bridges qualified as a career offender under § 4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. In a letter submitted to the Court prior to his sentencing, Bridges argued that § 4B1.1 did not apply to him, or alternatively, that the nature of his offense and his criminal history warranted a significant downward departure or variance. Bridges also sought a downward adjustment based on the conditions at Passaic County jail, where he had been detained for 18 months prior to his sentencing.

At sentencing, the District Court determined that Bridges's two prior convictions for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of a school qualified him as a career offender. The District Court further determined that, since Bridges faced a maximum statutory penalty of 25 or more years, his base offense level was 34. Bridges received a three-point reduction for acceptance of responsibility, resulting in an adjusted offense level of 31 and a Guidelines range of 188-235 months. 1

The District Court then reviewed the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors. The Court noted Bridges's lengthy criminal history prior to the two convictions that served as predicates for the career offender designation. The Court also noted that Bridges was rearrested only nine months after his release from custody on his two prior convictions, and that he violated the conditions of his supervised release multiple times. The Court further observed that Bridges was a high-ranking member of the Hoover Five Deuce set of the Crips.

The District Court sentenced Bridges to 188 months, at the bottom of the Guidelines range. In imposing the sentence, the Court stated, "the seriousness of the offenses [is] of utmost importance. We have to deter Mr. Bridges from further crimes and we have to send a message . . . to the community that the gang related activity is not tolerated."

After his sentencing, Bridges filed a motion asking the District Court to vacate the judgment of conviction and resentence him. In the motion, Bridges alleged that he had not had time to respond to the government's assertion that he was a high-ranking gang member. At the hearing on Bridges's motion, the District Court noted that it sentenced in accordance with the guidelines as often as it possibly could in order to prevent sentencing disparity. The District Court denied Bridges's motion, holding that there was no reason to revisit Bridges's sentence because it was...

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