Submitted: June 8, 2017
from United States District Court for the Northern District
of Iowa - Sioux City
WOLLMAN, GRUENDER, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.
GRUENDER, Circuit Judge.
Maldonado pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a
prohibited person and was sentenced to 84 months'
imprisonment. He now appeals his sentence, arguing that the
district court committed procedural error in determining
his advisory sentencing guidelines range by finding that two
of his prior convictions qualified as "controlled
substance offenses" and by applying an enhancement for
possessing a firearm in connection with another felony
offense. For the reasons below, we affirm.
October 7, 2015, police officers in Sioux City, Iowa stopped
Maldonado's vehicle and discovered a .40 caliber handgun,
a bag containing marijuana, and a methamphetamine pipe.
Maldonado, a felon, was arrested and charged with possession
of a firearm by a prohibited person. See 18 U.S.C.
§§ 922(g)(1) & (g)(3), 924(a)(2). Maldonado
pleaded guilty to this offense and proceeded to sentencing.
to sentencing, the probation office prepared a Presentence
Investigation Report ("PSR"). The PSR concluded
that Maldonado had sustained two prior convictions for a
"controlled substance offense" as defined in United
States Sentencing Guideline ("U.S.S.G.") §
4B1.2(b). Specifically, the PSR cited a 2010 Nebraska
conviction for "Criminal Attempt to Conspir[e] to
Distribute Methamphetamine" and a 2013 Iowa conviction
for "Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled
Substance - Marijuana." See Neb. Rev. Stat.
§§ 28-201, 28-202, 28-416; Iowa Code. Ann. §
124.401. As a result, the PSR recommended a base offense
level of 24. See U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(a)(2). The
PSR also recommended a four-level enhancement under U.S.S.G.
§ 2K2.1(b)(6)(B) because Maldonado possessed the firearm
"in connection with another felony offense, "
namely, carrying weapons in violation of Iowa Code Section
724.4(1). Maldonado objected to each of these
recommendations, but the district court overruled both of his
objections. Hence, the court concluded that Maldonado's
base offense level was 24 and calculated his total offense
level as 25 after applying the four-level enhancement and a
three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility.
such, the court initially determined that Maldonado's
advisory sentencing guidelines range was 110 to 120
months' imprisonment, based on a total offense level of
25, a criminal history category of VI, and a statutory
maximum of 120 months, see 18 U.S.C. §
924(a)(2). Nevertheless, the district court granted Maldonado
a downward variance because of its belief that the four-level
enhancement for possessing a firearm in connection with
another felony offense was "greater than necessary to
accomplish all applicable sentencing purposes" where the
"only other felony offense involves carrying weapons
under Iowa law." On that basis, the court decided to
"vary downward as if the enhancement was only one level
instead of four levels." As a result, the court
recalculated Maldonado's total offense level as 22 and
his advisory guidelines range as 84 to 105 months. The court
then sentenced Maldonado to 84 months' imprisonment.
Maldonado now appeals, arguing that the district court
committed procedural error by overruling each of his two
objections and thereby miscalculating his advisory sentencing
reviewing a defendant's sentence, we must ensure that the
district court committed no significant procedural error,
including failing to calculate (or improperly calculating)
the Guidelines range." United States v. Hagen,
641 F.3d 268, 270 (8th Cir. 2011) (quotation omitted). In
reviewing for procedural error, "[w]e review the
district court's construction and application of the
sentencing guidelines de novo and its factual
findings for clear error." Id.
argues that the district court committed procedural error in
two ways. First, he argues that the district court
erroneously concluded that his Iowa and Nebraska convictions
each qualify as a "controlled substance offense"
under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(b). Second, he argues that the
court erroneously applied a four-level enhancement for
possession of a firearm "in connection with another
felony offense" under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(b)(6)(B). We
address each argument in turn.
§ 2K2.1(a)(2) provides for a base offense level of 24
"if the defendant committed any part of the instant
offense subsequent to sustaining at least two felony
convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled
substance offense." U.S.S.G. ...