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United States v. Corso

December 15, 2008

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JOHN D. CORSO, III, APPELLANT



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (D.C. No. 06-cr-00389) District Judge: Honorable Gary L. Lancaster.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Fisher, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Argued October 1, 2008

Before: FISHER, CHAGARES and HARDIMAN, Circuit Judges.

OPINION OF THE COURT

Pursuant to a written plea agreement, John D. Corso, III pleaded guilty to one count of theft of mail, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1708. The District Court sentenced him to twenty-one months of imprisonment and two years of supervised release. Corso appeals from the District Court's judgment of sentence, arguing that the District Court committed numerous procedural errors in imposing his sentence and that his sentence is substantively unreasonable. Because we conclude that Corso validly waived the right to appeal his sentence, we will affirm.

I.

A.

John Corso worked as a driver for T. Wilson Trucking, a private company that contracted with the United States Postal Service to transport mail along certain "highway contract routes" between Postal Service facilities in Pennsylvania. In January 2005, postal inspectors determined that rifled mail found in a collection box in Aliquippa had come from sources along a contract route handled by Corso. In response, the inspectors placed a "test letter" containing cash in a bundle of first-class mail to be transported by Corso to a processing and distribution center in Pittsburgh.

The inspectors covertly watched Corso collect the bundle containing the test letter, but by the time he unloaded his cargo in Pittsburgh the test letter was missing. After stopping Corso before he could leave the distribution center, the inspectors found the test letter, as well as four other stolen letters, in the cab of his truck. When confronted, Corso first denied any wrongdoing, but eventually admitted that he had stolen mail on three or four occasions and that he had taken between five and twenty-five pieces of mail each time.

B.

1.

On November 8, 2006, an indictment was returned in the Western District of Pennsylvania charging Corso with five counts of theft of mail in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1708, one count for each of the letters found in the cab of his truck. After initially pleading not guilty, Corso eventually entered into a plea agreement with the government. In the agreement, Corso agreed to plead guilty to Count One of the indictment, acknowledged his responsibility for the conduct charged in the remaining four counts, and stipulated that the District Court could consider the conduct charged in those four counts in imposing sentence. In exchange for Corso's guilty plea, the government agreed to move to dismiss the remaining four counts against him and to recommend a two-level reduction in offense level for acceptance of responsibility under § 3E1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The parties made a non-binding stipulation that the total loss resulting from the offense was $300.00 and agreed that Corso faced a maximum term of imprisonment of five years and a maximum term of supervised release of three years.

The plea agreement also contained an appellate-waiver provision, which read as follows:

"8. John D. Corso, III waives the right to take a direct appeal from his conviction or sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 1291 or 18 U.S.C. § 3742, subject to the following exceptions:

(a) If the United States appeals from the sentence, John D. Corso, III may take a direct appeal from the sentence.

(b) If (1) the sentence exceeds the applicable statutory limits set forth in the United States Code, or (2) the sentence unreasonably exceeds the guideline range determined by the Court under the Sentencing Guidelines, John ...


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