The defendant, Lui Ruiz-Herrera who appealed against the verdict of the initial trial court, was an accomplice in conspiracy to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. He also possessed controlled substances with intent to distribute them.
The appellate court affirmed the initial judgment.
The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual is advisory, not mandatory. In selecting an appropriate sentence court is expected to consider the Guidelines and factors given in 18 U.S.C.S. § 3553(a). A sentencing judge may make evidentiary findings based on the Guidelines and under a preponderance of the evidence standard.
Whether defendant’s sentence on his conviction for conspiracy to distribute illegal drugs and for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance was well grounded.
The US Court of Appeals fount that the district court did not violate Apprendi by classifying defendant as a manager of the criminal conspiracy pursuant to U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 3B1.1(b). The statutory maximum for violations the relevant part of the Guidelines was life imprisonment. The sentence of 360 months imprisonment did not exceed statutory maximum of life imprisonment. As the record reflected the district court’s findings were supported by a preponderance of the evidence. i.e, he conspired with the Informant to deliver cocaine, directed the loading of cocaine into tractor-trailer and instructed the Informant to commit malicious act etc.