Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pham: Evidence Independent of Cooperation Proper for Sentence Enhancement

In U.S. v. Pham, No. 06-10880 (Sept. 11, 2006), the Court affirmed the sentence imposed on a defendant convicted of conspiracy to distribute ecstasy, and of money laundering.
The defendant claimed that the sentencing court erred in relying on evidence of drug quantity derived from information he provided after entering his plea agreement and cooperating with the government, in violation of USSG § 1B1.8. The Court, reviewing the issue for clear error, found that the evidence on which the sentencing court relied had been obtained independent of the defendant’s cooperation. Consequently, the evidence was properly relied on.
The Court also rejected the argument that the sentence should not have been enhanced based on a co-conspirator’s use of a firearm. The Court noted that the use of a firearm was reasonably foreseeable, both based on the evidence, and on the nature of the large-scale drug enterprise.