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United States v. White

March 5, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
DEWAYNE EUGENE WHITE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division. No. 2:08-CR-00003-JTM-James T. Moody, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Evans, Circuit Judge

ARGUED JANUARY 15, 2010

Before WOOD, EVANS, and SYKES, Circuit Judges.

Pursuant to a written plea agreement with the government, Dewayne White pled guilty to one count of distributing crack cocaine. After the plea was accepted by the judge, but before sentencing, both parties learned that White's criminal history made him ineligible for a "safety valve" reduction, which, in turn, negated the practical effect of the two other reductions the government had agreed to support. Upon learning this news, White filed a motion seeking to withdraw his plea on the basis of this "mutual mistake." The government opposed the motion, arguing that the plea should stand because the "mutual mistake" did not affect the essential terms of the agreement and because White knew that the safety valve reduction might not apply. The district judge sympathized with White but denied his request. White now appeals.

Back in December 2007, DEA agent Antonio Smith was working undercover with a confidential informant to make a controlled purchase of crack cocaine. Smith and the informant went to Quintin Lee's residence in Hammond, Indiana, to make the purchase. Lee then telephoned White, who said that he would bring the crack to Lee. White then called his co-defendant, Anthony Moton, who agreed to cook up the crack and have it available. White and Moton drove to Lee's house together and parked behind Smith's vehicle. Lee entered Moton's vehicle, and Moton handed him 51.9 grams of crack cocaine. Lee returned to Smith's vehicle, gave Smith the drugs, and obtained $1,500 of buy money from Smith. Lee gave Moton and White $1,300 of the buy money before returning to his house. After Moton and White drove away, the Hammond police performed a traffic stop. White jumped out of the moving car and fled on foot but was eventually apprehended. A digital scale was found in his possession.

Shortly thereafter, White was indicted on one count of knowingly and intentionally distributing fifty or more grams of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1).

A few months later, White reached a plea agreement with the government. The plea agreement outlined the various rights White would be waiving by pleading guilty, including the right to request documents relating to his case from the government and the right to appeal his conviction or sentence. The agreement also*fn1 detailed the government's promises as follows:

C. The United States of America and I have also entered into the following agreements which are not binding upon the Court, and I understand that if the Court does not follow these agreements I will not be allowed to withdraw my guilty plea;

a. In recognition of my acceptance of responsibility for my offense conduct, I am entitled to a two point and, if eligible, an additional one point reduction in offense level for acceptance of responsibility; however, the government is not obligated to recommend I receive the acceptance of responsibility adjustment if I deny my involvement in the offense, give conflicting statements of my involvement, or engage in additional criminal conduct including any personal use of controlled substances;

b. The United States of America and I agree that I am responsible for between 50 and 150 net grams of crack;

c. The United States of America and I agree that if my criminal history qualifies me for safety valve treatment, and if I satisfy the provision of the safety valve statute pertaining to providing information to the government, then the government will recommend that I am eligible for a two-level reduction under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines pursuant to sections 2D1.1(b)(9) and 5C1.2(a) and 18 U.S.C. section 3553(f);

d. The United States of America and I agree that I was a minor participant in the charged criminal activity and that I am eligible for a two-level reduction under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines pursuant to section 3B1.2(b);

e. The United States of America recommends that the Court should impose a sentence upon me equal to the minimum of ...


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