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United States v. Sadiq

June 12, 1997




Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. No. 95 CR 40030-01 J. Phil Gilbert, Chief Judge.

Before ROVNER, DIANE P. WOOD, and EVANS, Circuit Judges.

EVANS, Circuit Judge.

Argued April 16, 1997

Decided June 12, 1997

Aziz Sadiq was an entrepreneur. He ran a family business in partnership with a stepbrother, employing his grandmother and a cousin. Unfortunately the product he sold was crack cocaine, and when his business ran into trouble he ended up, not in bankruptcy, but in a federal prison, where he is serving a lengthy sentence of 336 months. It is the length of his sentence which he appeals. In effect, his claim is that his business was neither so large nor so successful as the government contends.

From 1992 to 1995 Sadiq and his stepbrother, Khalil Ataa (we think "stepbrother" is right but Ataa is called a "half brother" at various times in the record), distributed drugs out of his grandmother Alzena McCall's house in Mount Vernon, Illinois. Ataa managed a similar business in nearby Centralia, Illinois. Sadiq and Ataa often traveled together to Waukegan, Illinois, to buy drugs. They brought the drugs back to Sadiq's residence -- Granny McCall's house -- in Mount Vernon, where they cooked crack. They and their dealers then sold the drugs in Mount Vernon and Centralia.

On April 18, 1995, Sadiq and three others, Ahmad Smith, Robert Lockett a/k/a Anthony Cofield, and McCall were indicted and charged with, among other things, conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine. All eventually pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count.

In addition to the conspiracy, Sadiq was charged with simple distribution of crack cocaine, distribution within 1,000 feet of a school, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and a count, later dismissed, of using or carrying a firearm in connection with a drug offense. He entered his guilty pleas to 11 counts of the indictment on the morning his trial was scheduled to begin. His partner, Ataa, was charged in a separate case. He also entered a guilty plea and was sentence to 135 months in prison.

On June 22, 1995, and again on July 5, 1995, Ataa and Lockett gave proffer statements to government agents regarding their knowledge of the operation. On July 10 Sadiq also gave a proffer statement.

One of Sadiq's claims is that the government violated the agreement it made regarding the use of his statement. He contends that the proffer was improperly used in the preparation of the presentence investigation report and that the court abused its discretion in allowing it into evidence at sentencing. As will soon become clear, we are convinced that there was no abuse of discretion by the court and that there was evidence independent of the proffer of all matters relied on at sentencing.

As we noted, Sadiq now complains that the sentencing judge, Judge J. Phil Gilbert, found him to be a more successful drug dealer than he really was. His offense level was set at level 34, meaning he was found to have distributed more than 3,000 kilograms of marijuana equivalence units (MEU). MEU were used in setting the offense level because both crack and powder cocaine were sold. Relying on the presentence report, Judge Gilbert found that Sadiq distributed 6,542 kilograms MEU. On appeal, Sadiq admits he distributed 2,952.4 kilograms MEU, which puts him at offense level 32.

We review the district court's findings for clear error. A finding is clearly erroneous when, even though there is evidence to support it, we are firmly convinced that a mistake has been committed. United States v. Sykes, 7 F.3d 1331, 1335 (7th Cir. 1993). In this case, we are far from convinced of that.

There are several amounts which the district court could find, by a preponderance of the evidence, are attributable to Sadiq. These amounts, added to the 2,952.4 kilograms MEU which he concedes, put him well over 3,000 kilograms MEU and into base offense level 34.

For instance, in his proffer Robert Lockett said he purchased half-gram quantities of crack from Sadiq 10 to 15 times at Sadiq's residence. If it was 10 times, the purchase is of 5 grams of crack, which is 100 kilograms MEU. Sadiq disagrees with the number of purchases but concedes that he sold to Lockett in half-gram quantities about ...

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