United States v. Reyes-Gomez, 061119 FED1, 17-1757

Docket Nº:17-1757
Opinion Judge:LIPEZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee, v. FRANCISCO REYES-GOMEZ, Defendant, Appellant.
Attorney:Mariángela Tirado-Vales on brief for appellant. Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, and B. Kathryn Debrason, Assistant United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.
Judge Panel:Before Lynch, Stahl, and Lipez, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:June 11, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,

v.

FRANCISCO REYES-GOMEZ, Defendant, Appellant.

No. 17-1757

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

June 11, 2019

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO [Hon. Juan M. Pérez-Giménez, U.S. District Judge]

Mariángela Tirado-Vales on brief for appellant.

Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, and B. Kathryn Debrason, Assistant United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.

Before Lynch, Stahl, and Lipez, Circuit Judges.

LIPEZ, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

Defendant Francisco Reyes-Gomez claims on appeal that the sentence imposed by the district court was substantively unreasonable. Although the sentencing judge found that Reyes-Gomez qualified for the safety valve exception to the 120-month mandatory minimum sentence, he nonetheless imposed a 135-month term of imprisonment. We affirm.

I.

Reyes-Gomez pled guilty to conspiracy to import a controlled substance (Count One), 21 U.S.C. §§ 952(a), 960(a)(1) & (b)(1)(B), 963, and unlawful entry into the United States (Count Five), 8 U.S.C. § 1325(a)(1). He faced a 120-month mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for Count One.

Reyes-Gomez and the government entered into a plea agreement, which included the following "Sentence Recommendation" provision: After due consideration of the relevant factors enumerated in Title 18, United States Code, Section 3553(a), the parties reserve the right to recommend a sentence [of] 120 months for COUNT ONE. For COUNT FIVE, the parties will recommend a sentence of six months to run concurrent with the sentence imposed in COUNT ONE.

NOTE: The defendant recognizes that COUNT ONE carries a statutory minimum sentence of one hundred twenty (120) months.

The plea agreement also contained a waiver-of-appeal provision: The defendant knowingly and voluntarily waives the right to appeal the judgment and sentence in this case, provided that the defendant is sentenced in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in the Sentence Recommendation provisions of this Plea Agreement.

The parties subsequently agreed to a plea agreement supplement, which stated, in relevant part: The provisions in this Plea Agreement Supplement override any conflicting provisions in the Plea Agreement.

. . . [I]f the defendant complies with the requirements of [U.S.S.G.] 5C1.2 and 18 [U.S.C. §] 3553(f), and is deemed otherwise eligible, the statutory minimum would not apply and the offense level would be subject to an additional two level reduction for an adjusted offense level of 31. In that case, the parties would be free to recommend a sentence within the applicable guideline range for a total offense level [of] 31 when combined with the defendant's criminal history category as determined by the Court.

The law referenced in the plea agreement supplement is the so-called "safety valve" provision of the sentencing statute. The safety valve allows a defendant to avoid a mandatory minimum sentence and reduces the defendant's total offense level when the defendant satisfies certain mitigating factors.1 See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f); U.S.S.G. § 5C1.2.

At the sentencing hearing...

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