Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Ballenger

United States District Court, D. Colorado

October 11, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
1. TRANQUILITY JOSIANE BALLENGER, Defendant.

          ORDER REJECTING PLEA AGREEMENT

          William J. Martinez United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Plea Agreement. (ECF No. 76.) Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(b), the Court accepted Defendant's guilty plea to Count 1 of the Information (ECF No. 73). (See ECF No. 75.) However, plea agreements are governed separately under Rule 11(c). See United States v. Hyde, 520 U.S. 670, 674 (1997) (under Rule 11, “[g]uilty pleas can be accepted while plea agreements are deferred, and the acceptance of the two can be separated in time”). By separate order following the change-of-plea hearing, the Court announced, “The Parties are advised that I am expressly deferring the decision on whether to accept the Plea Agreement until I have the opportunity to review the Presentence Investigation Report prepared on the Defendant. By way of separate order, the Parties will be advised of my decision.” (ECF No. 82.) This is that order. And, for the reasons explained below, the Court rejects the Plea Agreement.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Indictment, which is dated September 27, 2018, charges Defendant with distribution, and possession with intent to distribute, five or more grams of actual methamphetamine and fifty or more grams of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(viii) (“Count 1”); and conspiracy to do the same, along with co-defendant Samuel Proctor, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (“Count 3”). (ECF No. 1.)[1]

         Defendant was arrested on October 2, 2018 (ECF No. 5), arraigned on October 5, 2018, and pleaded not guilty (ECF No. 11). She was released later that same day on a personal recognizance bond. (ECF No. 13.)

         On March 15, 2019, Defendant filed a Notice of Disposition and requested a change-of-plea hearing. (ECF No. 62.) The Court set a change-of-plea hearing for April 25, 2019. (ECF No. 64.) The Court, however, received and reviewed the Plea Agreement ahead of that hearing. (See id.) The major points of the Plea Agreement are:

• Defendant pleads guilty to a single-count Information, filed on the same day as the change-of-plea hearing, charging Defendant with conspiracy (Proctor being the co-conspirator) to distribute and possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine. (ECF No. 73 at 1; ECF No. 76 at 1.) The most significant difference between this charge and the conspiracy charge in the Indictment (Count 3) is that the Indictment links the conspiracy to a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(viii), which carries a five-year mandatory minimum sentence, whereas the Information's version of conspiracy pleads 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C) as the underlying substantive offense, which contains no mandatory minimum in the circumstances presented here.
• In exchange for pleading guilty to the conspiracy charge in the Information, the Government agrees to dismiss Defendant from the Indictment. (ECF No. 76 at 1.)
• The parties “jointly recommend [to the Court] a period of confinement of time served [i.e., four days], with 3 years of supervised release to follow.” (Id. at 2.)

         The Plea Agreement's preliminary sentencing calculation estimated an offense level of 12 and a criminal history category of VI, for an advisory sentencing range of 30- 37 months. (Id. at 7-8.) The Plea Agreement also stated “the parties['] understand[ing] that the Court is free, upon consideration and proper application of all 18 U.S.C. § 3553 factors, to impose” a sentence below, within, or above the advisory guideline range (up to the statutory maximum). (Id. at 9.)

         The change-of-plea hearing took place on April 25, 2019, as scheduled. (ECF No. 75.) As already noted, the Court accepted Defendant's plea but later advised the parties that it reserved ruling on whether it would accept the Plea Agreement. (ECF No. 82.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure contemplate three types of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.