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U.S. v. Tabaka

filed: December 28, 1992.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE
v.
JOHN F. TABAKA, JR., MARY R. TABAKA; PHILLIP S. LUCCHESE, AND GERALD C. MUNSCH, PHILLIP S. LUCCHESE, APPELLANT



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA. (D.C. Crim. No. 91-00016-3E).

Before: Scirica, Alito, and Weis, Circuit Judges.

Author: Weis

Opinion OF THE COURT

WEIS, Circuit Judge.

In this appeal from a sentence, we conclude that an offense that occurs after the conduct that is the basis of an indictment must be considered in calculating the defendant's criminal history. However, when a previous sentence for an unrelated offense is "suspended," the court must only consider the time served before suspension when determining the appropriate level of enhancement. Because the district court did not limit its calculation to the non-suspended portion of the previous sentence, we will remand for resentencing.

The defendant pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana as well as to one count of filing false tax returns. The district court, after granting the government's motion for downward departure, imposed concurrent sentences of 84 and 60 months. Defendant has appealed alleging error in the calculation of the criminal history score adopted by the district court.

The federal indictment alleges that the defendant engaged in a drug conspiracy that began in 1977 and ended in June 1989. On May 24, 1990, before the federal indictment had issued, the defendant was arrested by local police for driving under the influence of alcohol in Erie County, Pennsylvania. After he pleaded guilty, the state court sentenced him on March 12, 1991 to a term of imprisonment for a minimum of 48 hours to a maximum of 15 months. Two days later, on March 14, 1991, the state Judge entered an order stating that "the sentence as to imprisonment as above set forth be suspended during good behavior and the Defendant is placed on Parole for the unexpired portion of the maximum term."

The defendant pleaded guilty to the federal indictment on September 20, 1991, and was sentenced on December 2, 1991. The district court rejected defendant's contention that the state judgment was not a "prior sentence" under the Guidelines for purposes of calculating criminal history. The court also rejected the argument that, because the state sentence had been "suspended," the criminal history score should have been one, rather than enhanced to three based on the state's maximum term of 15 months.

I.

Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, criminal history points are assessed according to the length of each prior sentence of imprisonment. U.S.S.G. § 4A1.1(a)-(c). "Prior sentence" is defined as "any sentence previously imposed upon adjudication of guilt, whether by guilty plea . . ., for conduct not part of the instant offense." U.S.S.G. § 4A1.2(a)(1). As applicable to the facts here, the Guideline commentary provides that the "[state] sentence imposed after the defendant's commencement of the [federal] offense, but prior to sentencing on the [federal] offense, is a prior sentence if it was for conduct other than conduct that was part of the [federal] offense." U.S.S.G. § 4A1.2(a)(1), comment. (n.1).

Defendant argues that the Guidelines should not enhance punishment for anything other than an offense that occurred before the conduct that is the subject of his federal indictment. The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit rejected a similar argument, pointing out that a post-plea offense involves additional criminal activity that makes the defendant more culpable and suggests the likelihood of recidivism and future criminal conduct. United States v. Walker, 912 F.2d 1365, 1366-67 (11th Cir. 1990).

Essentially, the result in the case at hand is dictated by the plain wording of the Guideline which focuses on whether the sentence was "previously imposed." U.S.S.G. § 4A1.2(a)(1). The Guideline does not discuss when the offense occurred but, instead, looks to the timing of the federal sentencing hearing and the earlier conviction. See United States v. Walling, 936 F.2d 469, 471 (10th Cir. 1991) ("the chronology of sentencing rather than the commission of the crimes" is controlling); see also United States v. Lara, 975 F.2d 1120, 1129 (5th Cir. 1992); United States v. Hoy, 932 F.2d 1343, 1345 (9th Cir. 1991); United States v. Walker, 912 F.2d 1365, 1366 (11th Cir. 1990); United States v. Smith, 900 F.2d 1442, 1448 (10th Cir. 1990).

We conclude that the district court properly decided that the sentence for driving under the influence of alcohol was a "prior sentence" for purposes of ...


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