The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, District Judge:
Maurice Horton was a "copycat".
He made a false bomb threat to destroy the Paul Findley
Federal Building in Springfield, Illinois, one day after a very
real and very large bomb all but destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah
Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
At 1:00 p.m., Horton entered the Mayor's office of the City
of Springfield and asked to see the Mayor. The Mayor's secretary
told Horton that the Mayor was unavailable. Horton then told the
Mayor's secretary that "there has been a bomb threat at the
Federal Building and they closed the door." At 1:09 p.m. Horton
placed a telephone call from a pay phone in the Municipal
Building to the United States Marshal's office in the Findley
Federal Building. Horton told the court security officer who
answered the telephone that "one is going to go off in fifteen
minutes." At 1:10 p.m. two Springfield city employees saw Horton
at the pay telephone on the third floor of the Municipal
Predictably, the Findley Federal Building was evacuated,
sealed, and searched. The building houses fourteen government
agencies, including courts, law enforcement agencies, and social
service agencies. As a result of the evacuation, the Findley
Federal Building was closed for the remainder of the work day,
resulting in the loss of over 400 work hours (the building houses
approximately 123 employees). Federal, state, and local law
enforcement agencies secured the building and searched it for the
nonexistent explosive device. Additionally, members of the public
wishing to do business with any of the fourteen agencies housed
in the Findley Building were prohibited from doing so for the
remainder of the day.
The Grand Jury indicted Horton on two counts. Count I charged
Horton with willfully and maliciously conveying false information
"knowing the same to be false, concerning an attempt and alleged
attempt being made, and to be made, unlawfully to damage and
destroy the Paul Findley Federal Building by means of explosive.
. . ." Count II charged Horton with making false statements to
Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during
their investigation of the bomb threat.
Horton pleaded guilty to Count I, admitting that he violated
18 U.S.C. § 844(e), which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years
On November 13, 1995, this Court sentenced Horton on Count I
to 40 months imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of
supervised release.*fn1 At the time of sentencing, the Government
moved to dismiss Count II.
II. APPLICATION OF THE GUIDELINES
This case was difficult for the sentencing court. While the
conduct in this case was very serious, the parties — both the
defendant and the government — sought only minimal punishment.
The Sentencing Guidelines also seem to recommend an unreasonably
light sentence. But Defendant pleaded guilty to an offense
carrying a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and the Court
is obliged to see that he receives just punishment.*fn2
The starting point in sentencing is always the Sentencing
Guidelines. Section 2A6.1 provides a base offense level of 12 for
violations of 18 U.S.C. § 844(e). The Guidelines further provide
that "[i]f the offense involved any conduct evidencing an intent
to carry out such threat, increase by 6 levels." U.S.S.G. §
2A6.1(b)(1). If, however, "specific offense characteristic §
2A6.1(b)(1) does not apply, and the offense involved a single
instance evidencing little or no deliberation, decrease by 4
levels." Id. § 2A6.1(b)(2). To determine the proper final offense
level, the Court must decide whether either of the two special
criteria described in the Guidelines are present.
In the Presentence Investigation Report (PSR), the probation
officer concluded that Horton's offense level should be 6. The
probation officer reached this conclusion by granting a 4 level
reduction because the parties' plea agreement stated that the
offense evidenced little or no deliberation. The probation
officer also granted Horton a 2 level reduction for acceptance of
responsibility. U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a). Horton's ...