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United States v. Gaines

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

July 16, 2018

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Allen Gaines, also known as Snoop, also known as Allen Gaines Defendant-Appellant United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
Ernest Terrell Lomax, also known as E, also known as Ernest Lomax Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: January 10, 2018

          Appeals from United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa - Des Moines

          Before SMITH, Chief Judge, MELLOY and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

          MELLOY, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Ernest Terrell Lomax and Allen Gaines each pleaded guilty to the federal crime of Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin. In sentencing Lomax, the district court[1] applied a sentencing enhancement based on its conclusion that Lomax qualified as a career offender. Lomax objects to the application of the enhancement. In sentencing Gaines, the district court varied downward from the applicable Guidelines range. Gaines contends that his sentence was substantively unreasonable. We reject their arguments and affirm the judgments of the district court.

         I.

         A federal grand jury returned a multi-count, multi-defendant indictment charging Lomax and Gaines for, among other crimes, Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C), and 846. Lomax and Gaines each pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge.

         At Lomax's sentencing, he objected to the court applying the career-offender enhancement. See U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b). The court overruled Lomax's objection and applied the enhancement. As a result, the court calculated Lomax's Guidelines range as 151-188 months of imprisonment and 36 months of supervised release. The court imposed a sentence of 151 months' imprisonment and 36 months' supervised release.

         At Gaines's sentencing, the court calculated his Guidelines range as 151-188 months' imprisonment and 36 months' supervised release. The court agreed with Gaines that an applicable Guidelines enhancement overstated the seriousness of his behavior. The court then varied downward from the applicable range and imposed a sentence of 120 months' imprisonment and 36 months' supervised release.

         Lomax and Gaines timely filed notices of appeal.

         II.

         A.

         Lomax challenges the sentencing court's application of the career-offender enhancement to his Guidelines offense level. See U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b); see also id. §§ 4B1.1(a), 4B1.2(a)(1). The court concluded that Lomax qualified as a career offender because he had two prior predicate convictions. The issue on appeal is whether Lomax's prior conviction under Iowa Code § 708.2A(2)(c) (2012)[2] qualifies as a "crime of violence" under the Guidelines. See U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a). We review de novo a district court's conclusion that a prior conviction qualifies as a crime of violence. United States v. LeGrand, 468 F.3d 1077, 1081 (8th Cir. 2006).

         Under the Guidelines, a "career offender" includes a defendant who "has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense." U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a)(3). A "crime of violence" is defined in part as "any offense under federal or state law, punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that . . . has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another." Id. § 4B1.2(a)(1); see also id. ยง 4B1.1 cmt. n.1. Lomax concedes that he has one qualifying ...


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