On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 01-cr-00248-3) District Judge: Honorable William W. Caldwell.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sloviter, Circuit Judge
Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) April 21, 2006
Before: SLOVITER, AMBRO, Circuit Judges, and DuBOIS,*fn1 District Judge.
Appellant Daryl Lonard Parker appeals his sentence of 349 months imprisonment imposed following a jury verdict finding him guilty of conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than fifty grams of cocaine base ("crack") in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and guilty of distribution and possession with intent to distribute (1) 500 grams or more, but less than 5 kilograms of, cocaine, and (2) 50 grams or more of crack in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Appellant Daryl Parker (also referred to by his street name, "JR") will be referred to throughout this opinion as "Parker." His cousins, Travis and Michael Parker, will be referred to by their full names. Parker does not challenge his conviction but makes the following arguments on appeal: (1) that his sentence is unreasonable under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) because of the disparity between his sentence and that of his co-defendant, and (2) that the District Court failed to provide a sufficient statement of reasons for the sentence as required by 18 U.S.C. § 3553(c). We write to provide guidance to sentencing courts presented with sentence disparities among co-defendants.
Parker was arrested in June 2001. Two months later, the grand jury indicted him and three of his co-defendants -- Travis Parker, Michael Parker and Thaddeus Westry -- with conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and crack in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and with distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine and crack in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Michael Parker and Thadeus Westry pled guilty pursuant to negotiated plea agreements; Appellants Daryl Parker and Travis Parker proceeded to trial in August 2002.
During the trial, two key witnesses -- Juan Estrella and Michael Parker -- testified against Parker. Estrella, who sold cocaine out of New York City prior to his arrest in June 2000, testified that approximately every two weeks between 1998 and 1999 he would meet Parker in New York City and sell him ten to fourteen grams of cocaine. During these meetings, Estrella offered Parker a commission in the form of cocaine should Parker bring new clients to Estrella.
Parker introduced Michael Parker, his cousin, to Estrella. After purchasing cocaine from Estrella several times, Michael Parker in turn introduced his brother, Travis Parker, to Estrella. Parker taught both Michael and Travis how to prepare crack by "cooking" cocaine. After several trips to New York, Travis Parker requested that Estrella transport cocaine to York, Pennsylvania rather than selling it to Travis in New York City. Estrella made the trip to Pennsylvania ten to twelve times, selling cocaine to Travis Parker and others.
As noted above, the jury returned a guilty verdict on August 22, 2002, against Parker and Travis Parker on both the conspiracy and distribution counts. On April 28, 2003, Parker was sentenced to concurrent 349-month terms of imprisonment.*fn2
In May 2003, Michael Parker was sentenced to a 125-month term of imprisonment and Travis Parker was sentenced to concurrent 324-month terms of imprisonment. On appeal, this court affirmed the defendants' convictions but vacated their sentences, remanding for resentencing in light of United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005). United States v. Parker, 142 Fed. Appx. 19, 24 (3d Cir. 2005) (unpublished opinion).
On remand, the District Court resentenced Michael Parker and Travis Parker to 86 and 180 months of imprisonment, respectively. By contrast, it resentenced Parker to 349 months imprisonment, an identical term to that originally imposed. The Government had argued in favor of imposing Parker's original sentence even though it had not opposed a sentence reduction in the case of Travis or Michael Parker.
The Government gave several reasons for urging the District Court not to reduce Parker's sentence: (1) Parker had a more significant criminal history than Michael or Travis Parker, including several violent offenses, (2) Parker's introduction of his younger cousins, Michael and Travis Parker, to drug dealers in New York "transformed this drug case from a . . . small-time drug dealing operation in York [Pennsylvania], to a big-time drug dealing operation that was importing large quantities of powder cocaine and crack . . . from New York to York," App. at 48-49, and (3) Parker taught Michael and Travis Parker how to cook cocaine into crack. The prosecutor concluded, "Defendant defines the term recidivism. There's no reason to believe that his behavior would be any different if he were released early on this offense than it has been in the past." App. at 52.
In adopting the Government's recommendation, the District Court noted that Parker has a "terrible record." App. at 52. The Court stated that in contrast to the facts underlying the resentencings of Travis and Michael Parker, Parker's circumstances presented "a very aggravated situation." App. at 53. The District Court explained its decision to reduce only the co-defendants' sentences, noting that Michael Parker "was largely responsible for the convictions" at trial and ...