USA v. Karl Bullock, 05-2655.  Yikes!  Karl Bullock is sentenced to 1200 months for five counts of distributing heroin.  The USA dismisses Bullock’s conspiracy count but argues relevant conduct for the conspiracy at sentencing. 

In short, the government asks for 30 years for Bullock’s crimes.  The district court disagrees and sentences Bullock to 100 years (not a typo).  The district court arrives at 100 years by using 1B1.3 relevant conduct and 18 USC 3553 factors to string together the maximum 20 year sentence for each of the five distribution counts.

The 7th Circuit starts by stating that 100 years is an unimaginably long sentence.  The 7th Circuit then criticizes the 1B1.3 relevant conduct calculation by the district court.  Specifically, the 7th Circuit states that the mere fact that Bullock engaged in other drug sales does not make the other drug sales relevant conduct for sentencing purposes.  Relevant conduct per 1B1.3 must be found to be part of the same course of conduct or common scheme or plan as the offense of conviction to be used.

The 7th Circuit then vacates Bullock’s sentence and  remands Bullock to the district court for a proper calculation of Bullock’s relevant conduct by a different district court judge. 

USA v. Julian Salazar, 05-1673.  Salazar appeals his 18 USC 922(g) plea conviction of 120 months.  In short, the USA agrees to a low end guideline recommendation at sentencing.  The low end here is 108 months.

Salazar argues that the USA breached the plea because at sentencing the USA stated low end but argued that Salazar was a cold blooded killer of the Insane Deuces street gang.  Salazar raises the breach of plea argument for the first time on appeal.

To start, the 7th Circuit reviews a breach of plea raised in this manner for plain error, a remarkably demanding standard.  In short, the 7th Circuit states that this type of sandbagging by the USA does not promote the purposes of plea contracts.  However, the USA did recommend low end.  As such, the USA did not substantially violate the terms of the plea. 

The 7th Circuit then states that even if the USA violated the terms of the plea, plain error was not overcome by Salazar.  In short, Salazar can not prove that but for the USA’s comments, he would have received a lower sentence.  Judgment affirmed. 

For more about attorney Michael J. Petro, visit www.mjpetro.com .

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