U.S. v. White

Decision Date25 October 1989
Docket Number89-1487,Nos. 89-1313,s. 89-1313
Citation888 F.2d 490
Parties, 2 Fed.Sent.R. 136 UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee/Cross-Appellant, v. William V. WHITE, Defendant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Michael Albert ROE, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

Thomas M. Durkin, David Glockner, Asst. U.S. Attys., Office of the U.S. Atty., Chicago, Ill., and John Vandreuil, Asst. U.S. Atty., Office of the U.S. Atty., Madison, Wis., for the U.S., plaintiff-appellee.

Allan A. Ackerman and Louis B. Garippo, Susan F. Feibus, and Thomas A. Moore, Chicago, Ill., for William V. White, defendant-appellant.

Charles W. Giesen, Morris D. Berman, Giesen & Berman, Madison, Wis., and Allan A. Ackerman, Chicago, Ill., for Michael Roe, defendant-appellant.

Before CUMMINGS, CUDAHY and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges.

EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judge.

Two unrelated criminal cases present a common question concerning the application of the Sentencing Guidelines: whether drugs that were not part of the offense of which the defendant was convicted must be included in the amount used to compute the base offense score. The Ninth Circuit has held that only quantities entailed in counts of which the defendant has been convicted may be used. United States v. Restrepo, 883 F.2d 781 (9th Cir.1989). Five other courts have held that all quantities that "were part of the same course of conduct or common scheme or plan as the offense of conviction" must be added together as a result of Guidelines Sec. 1B1.3(a)(2). E.g., United States v. Williams, 880 F.2d 804 (4th Cir.1989); United States v. Taplette, 872 F.2d 101 (5th Cir.1989); United States v. Ykema, (6th Cir. 1989); 887 F.2d 697, 699 United States v. Allen, 886 F.2d 143 (8th Cir.1989); United States v. Scroggins, 880 F.2d 1204 (11th Cir.1989). We agree with these decisions and disagree with the Ninth Circuit.


Customs officials intercepted two packages from Peru addressed to William White and found that each contained magazines hollowed out and filled with cocaine base, a substance that can be smoked or converted into cocaine hydrochloride, the powdery form in which cocaine usually is taken. They turned the packages over to the Drug Enforcement Administration, which removed 300 grams of the cocaine base and left two grams in one of the packages, adding sugar to make up bulk and a transmitter to signal the opening of the package. Maintaining watch after dropping one package in White's post office box, agents saw him pick it up and make a beeline for a storage locker that was later found to contain a substantial quantity of mannitol, a laxative often used to cut (dilute) cocaine and provide bulk. White then went about his business, leaving the package, unopened, in his car. Agents arrested him as he was on his way to play tennis early in the evening. The car contained not only the package and tennis gear but also a loaded semi-automatic pistol in the tray between the front seats.

An indictment charged White with conspiring to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, with possessing 157 grams of cocaine base (the amount originally in the delivered package) with intent to manufacture and distribute it, and with using a firearm in relation to a drug offense. After a bench trial, the district judge convicted White of the count charging possession with intent to manufacture and distribute but acquitted him of the counts charging conspiracy and possession of a gun in relation to a drug offense. The judge said that the prosecution had not demonstrated that White conspired with anyone in particular, and that White had not used the gun "to facilitate the commission of these offenses".

The base offense score under the Sentencing Guidelines depends on the quantity of drugs involved in the offense. Quantity could have been derived in three ways here: the 1.88 grams of cocaine base in the package placed in White's box, translating to a level of 18; the 157 grams that had been in the package when it arrived at the border, translating to a level of 34; and the 302 grams that had been in both packages, yielding the same level of 34 (everything from 150 to 499 grams of cocaine base is in that category, along with 15-49.9 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride). White maintained that level 18 is proper while the prosecution argued for level 34.

The district judge found that the amount of cocaine White possessed with intent to distribute was 1.88 grams. White never got control of any other quantity and therefore could not have possessed it, even constructively. Although the prosecutor argued that the whole 302 grams should be included because the two packages were part of a single course of conduct, the judge disagreed, stating:

I, in being a rather jealous guardian of my function and role, asked the rhetorical question. Why did I make specific findings of fact if some bureaucratic computation is going to throw them out the window? And I asked [the probation officer] to recompute the offense level based upon 1.88 grams, the amount [White] was found to be in possession of, and without a gun, ... because I found it very difficult to see that he should be punished for even more than he was charged with let alone about found guilty of....

Without discussing the language of the Sentencing Guidelines, the judge then sentenced White to 33 months' imprisonment, the upper limit of the 27-33 month range prescribed for a base offense level of 18. The range for a base offense level of 34 is 151-188 months; if the level had been set at 36 because of the gun (as the prosecutor requested, see Guidelines Sec. 2D1.1(b)(1)), the range would have been 188-235 months.

White's appeal challenges the conviction. The United States, appealing on the authority of 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3742(b)(2), asks us to instruct the district judge to resentence White on the basis of an offense level of 34. Part II takes up the government's appeal. White submits that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. He didn't open the package and, he says, had no idea that cocaine base was hidden in a hollowed-out magazine to which he subscribed. The prosecution replies that producers do not send 300 grams of cocaine base--which the Guidelines treat as equivalent to 30 kilograms of cocaine--to randomly selected names on magazine subscription lists. White traveled to Peru frequently, the prosecution established, though he says the trips were innocent and concerned unspecified "mining interests". On receiving the package, White visited a storage locker containing 20 pounds of mannitol, used as a laxative or a cutting agent; White does not suffer constipation of that severity, leaving the sinister inference. Cocaine base is processed before consumption; this requires ether and hydrochloric acid. White and his brother had purchased these chemicals in quantity, under assumed names, a few years earlier. Witnesses reported smelling the fumes of these chemicals from what may have been a processing operation under White's control. Although this evidence affords only circumstantial proof that White knew the contents of the envelope from Peru, it is sufficient to support the inference the district judge drew.

If so, White contends, this shows only that the evidence concerning the purchases and use of ether and hydrochloric acid should not have been admitted in evidence. Such bad-act evidence may not be admitted to show character, Fed.R.Evid. 404(b), which is how the prosecution used it here, White believes. See United States v. Beasley, 809 F.2d 1273 (7th Cir.1987). The district court believed, however, that the evidence had been used to show White's knowledge of the contents of the packages, a permissible use. Because the judge as trier of fact was in the ideal position to know the purpose for which the evidence was used, we are most reluctant to say that he abused his discretion in admitting it. Ether and hydrochloric acid are not contraband or even regulated; neither is having an open window through which a fan blows their fumes. Yet such deeds may reflect on a person's knowledge about the contents of a package that is useful only to those who can get (and know what to do with) ether and hydrochloric acid. Judge Marovich was entitled to use the evidence as he did. Huddleston v. United States, 485 U.S. 681, 108 S.Ct. 1496, 99 L.Ed.2d 771 (1988).


An indictment charged Michael Roe with three drug offenses. Count I alleged that during January to May 1986 Roe was a member of a conspiracy transporting cocaine from Florida to Wisconsin; Roe twice served as courier, for which he received small quantities of the drug. Count II charged that on May 18, 1988, Roe sold one ounce of cocaine. Count III charged that on June 30, 1988, Roe used the telephone to plan a sale of cocaine (the deal fell through).

Roe and the prosecutor signed an agreement under which Roe would plead guilty to Count II and cooperate with the prosecution of other cases; the United States Attorney pledged to dismiss the other counts. This agreement stated: "The cocaine involved in Count II weighed 27.778 grams. The United States and the defendant stipulate and agree that the charges in Counts I and III will not be included in the sentencing guidelines computation."

The parties presented this agreement to Chief Judge Crabb, who deferred accepting it until receiving the presentence report. After reading the report, she informed Roe that the Guidelines did not permit a stipulation excluding consideration of related illegal acts. See Ykema, 887 F.2d at 699. She therefore accepted the plea "conditionally"--equivalent to rejecting the proposed plea agreement, see Fed.R.Crim.P. 11(e)(4), while accepting the plea--explained how she proposed to compute the sentence and its anticipated total (33 months), and told Roe that he could withdraw his plea and proceed to trial....

To continue reading

Request your trial
182 cases
  • U.S. v. Morgano
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • December 20, 1994
    ...associated with loss, harm, or other bad effects stemming from related, but ungrouped counts of conviction. See United States v. White, 888 F.2d 490, 496-97 (7th Cir.1989). Perhaps extortion (predicate act No. 57) and gambling (Count 4) are, under this Guideline provision, closely related a......
  • U.S. v. Marshall
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit
    • September 10, 1990
    ...the same meaning as in 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841." As we observed in United States v. Pinto, 875 F.2d 143 (7th Cir.1989), and United States v. White, 888 F.2d 490 (7th Cir.1989), these notes are taken seriously as contemporaneous explanations by the authors. To conclude that the carrier medium is ......
  • U.S. v. Restrepo, 88-3207
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • October 4, 1991
    ...493 U.S. 943, 110 S.Ct. 346, 107 L.Ed.2d 334 (1989); United States v. Silverman, 889 F.2d 1531, 1535 (6th Cir.1989); United States v. White, 888 F.2d 490, 499 (7th Cir.1989); United States v. Gooden, 892 F.2d 725, 727-28 (8th Cir.1989), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 110 S.Ct. 2594, 110 L.Ed.......
  • US v. Sloan
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Indiana
    • May 6, 1993
    ...the notes are not formally binding, and we would follow the text over the notes in the event of conflict...."); United States v. White, 888 F.2d 490, 497 (7th Cir.1989) ("The Sentencing Commission's application notes are contemporaneous explanations of the Guidelines by their authors, entit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • Kisor v. Wilkie as a Limit on Auer Deference in the Sentencing Context
    • United States
    • Emory University School of Law Emory Law Journal No. 70-4, 2021
    • Invalid date
    ...of the rule of lenity suggest that it plays no role in the interpretation of advisory guidelines" post-Booker); United States v. White, 888 F.2d 490, 497-98 (7th Cir. 1989) (arguing that the rule of lenity does not apply to the Sentencing Guidelines because the purposes underlying the rule ......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT