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United States v. Lacy

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

December 12, 2017

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Lucas J. Lacy Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: November 13, 2017

         Appeal from United States District Court for the District of Nebraska - Omaha.

          Before BENTON, SHEPHERD, and KELLY, Circuit Judges.

          BENTON, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Lucas J. Lacy was convicted of receiving and distributing child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(2). The district court[1] sentenced him to 60 months' imprisonment and five years' supervised release. After prison, he violated the conditions of release. The court revoked the release, sentencing him to nine months' imprisonment and five years' supervised release. He appeals. Having jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.

         In December 2014, Lacy's probation officer filed a petition for revocation, alleging six release-condition violations. In April 2015, the officer amended the petition, adding violations: (7) failure to timely inform his probation officer that he was fired; and (8) unsuccessful discharge from sexual abuse treatment. Lacy admitted violations seven and eight. The government dismissed allegations one through six. The court continued disposition, allowing Lacy time to comply.

         In March 2016, Lacy's probation officer filed a second petition for revocation, alleging three new violations. In October 2016, the court held a revocation hearing. On the government's motion, the court dismissed the second petition, proceeding only on the admitted violations (seven and eight). The court imposed a (government-requested) sentence of nine months and five years of supervised release. It reimposed the "terms and conditions of his original supervised release" and added new conditions.

         This court reviews a revocation sentencing decision "using the same standards" applied "to initial sentencing decisions." United States v. Miller, 557 F.3d 910, 915-16 (8th Cir. 2009). "Absent an abuse of discretion, " this court "will not disturb a sentence imposed within the bounds of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e), the statutory provision detailing parameters for modification or revocation of supervised release." United States v. Holmes, 283 F.3d 966, 968 (8th Cir. 2002).

         Lacy admits he violated the conditions of supervised release. But he believes the court abused its discretion by rejecting "a 180-day public law placement, " arguing that the "sentence of incarceration interrupts [his] progress without significantly advancing the other § 3553(a) goals." At the revocation hearing, Lacy's counsel said that the government's recommendation of nine months' imprisonment and five years' supervised release was not "unreasonable." The district court agreed:

Well, I'm considering the defendant's progress. And I appreciate the things that he's noted about the progress he's made with his substance abuse issues and the fact that he has been engaged in some gainful employment.
But there is certainly a pattern of the defendant not being in compliance with conditions of his supervised release and not working with the probation officer and not following directions. And failure to register as a sex offender for his place of residence is also a concern. Also there is a pattern of the defendant being given many opportunities to comply and failing to comply.
So I think that the recommendation by Probation is well-reasoned. I will impose a term of nine months' incarceration to be followed by five years of supervised release.

         The district court thus acknowledged Lacy's progress but properly found it outweighed by the § 3553(a) factors. See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) (requiring consideration of "the history and characteristics of the defendant" and "the need for the sentence imposed" to "afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct" and "protect the public from further crimes of the defendant"). It did not abuse its discretion in sentencing him within the guidelines. See United States v. Ahlemeier, 391 F.3d 915, 923 (8th Cir. 2004) (affirming a nine month sentence for a defendant convicted of child pornography who violated conditions of release by failing to participate in treatment).

         Lacy asserts his "conditions of release are unusually restrictive." "A sentencing judge is afforded wide discretion when imposing terms of supervised release." United States v. Crume, 422 F.3d 728, 732 (8th Cir. 2005). Still, conditions of supervised release "must meet the requirements of 18 U.S.C. ยง 3583(d)." ...


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