Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, February 14, 2005

No Booker error when defendant admits facts

In U.S. v. Frye, No. 03-16377 (11th Cir. 2005), the Court found affirmed the conviction and sentence of a defendant who pled guilty to using a firearm in connection with a drug felon offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), attempt to manufacture more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, and manufacture of more than 500 grams of methamphetamine.
The Court rejected the argument that the plea was involuntary because of irreconciliable differences between the defendant and his lawyer, noting that the record of the plea colloquy showed that Frye was not pleading guilty involuntarily.
The Court also rejected the argument that the defendant could not be convicted of violating § 924(c) because he was not convicted of an underlying drug felony offense. The Court joined other circuits which have held that an actual violation of a drug felony statute is not necessary to establish a § 924(c) violation. § 924(c) does not require that a defendant be convicted of, or even charged with, a predicate offense.
Reviewing the factual resume at the plea colloquy, the Court further rejected the argument that the § 924(c) guilty plea was supported by insufficient facts.
Finally, the Court found no Booker violation in the imposition of sentencing enhancements for being an organizer in the conspiracy, or for risk of harm to human life or the environment, based on factors that were neither admitted by him nor proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court found that the factual resume submitted to the district court as part of the plea colloquy supported the two enhancements. Frye admitted to the conduct underlying the sentence enhancements. The sentence therefore did not violate Booker.