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United States v. Teague

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

November 13, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLEN J. TEAGUE, Defendant.

SENTENCING MEMORANDUM

HERNDON, CHIEF JUDGE

I. THE SENTENCING HEARING

The Court held a sentencing hearing on September 6, 2013, with the defendant and counsel for both parties present. This memorandum represents what sentence the Court intends to impose, unless further comment by the parties alters the Court’s intentions, and, therefore, does not in any way represent the final order of the Court.

The findings of the probation officer in the presentence report were adopted by the Court following arguments of counsel relative to objections filed by the defendant. The defendant’s objections were three-fold: that an enhancement to the offense level for obstruction of justice should not apply, that the offense level should be reduced for acceptance of responsibility, and that the Court should not apply the career criminal enhancement because the criminal history points over represent the defendant’s true criminal history and he should not, therefore, qualify for the enhancement in the first place.

The Court made a more detailed analysis on the record, which it incorporates by reference here. The essence of that finding was that the defendant directly, and through another, tried to influence and intimidate a witness with the goal of keeping the witness from testifying against him. He did so over the telephone and through another person by certain actions having to do with the custody of a child in the care of that witness. The defendant thereby earned an obstruction of justice enhancement as advised by the language of Section 3C1.1 of the Guideline Manual of the United States Sentencing Commission.

Complimentary to that enhancement is the Commission’s advice that conduct which amounts to obstruction of justice and results in an enhancement ordinarily indicates that the defendant has not accepted responsibility, as defined and used in the guidelines, unless some extraordinary circumstance exists to demonstrate otherwise. Once again, the Court adopts his in-court analysis herein by reference. The core of that analysis was that attempting to adversely influence and intimidate a government witness is the quintessential example of failure to accept responsibility. His later plea represents more a resignation of circumstance than acceptance of responsibility.

As for the career offender treatment, it is apparent that the defendant is technically and clearly qualified for the adjustment under Chapter Four of the Guidelines. The predicate offenses were present and he qualified for the application as a guideline enhancement. The Court has the discretion and will pursue a thorough analysis under the statutory factors regarding the propriety of applying that treatment to this defendant as an individualized sentence. In so doing, the Court will consider the entire record it must consider when imposing a sentence. However, in order to properly and accurately calculate the Guideline treatment, and therefore determine the accurate advice from the Sentencing Commission to this Court, the Career Offender status must be applied to this defendant in the first instance.

After making the above determinations, the Court made findings regarding the complete guideline computation. The defendant’s guideline calculation was a total offense level 34 and a criminal history category VI; resulting in a custodial range of 262 months to 327 months, at least 6 years of supervised release, and a fine range of $17, 500.00 to $4, 000, 000.00 plus the special assessment of $200.00. The Court then went over the statutory factors found in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and the parties made widely divergent arguments relative to how each believed the Court should interpret those factors in this case. Upon invitation, the defendant also addressed the Court in allocution.

II. THE FACTS

In July of 2012, a confidential source (CS) informed officers of the Alton Police Department that he/she had known Allen Teague for a period of one to two months and had made five or six purchases of crack cocaine from him. The CS made two controlled purchases on behalf of law enforcement, one a $50 purchase (although Teague gave him/her more than requested as recompense for money owed the CS by an “acquaintance” of defendant’s) and a $60 purchase. Teague’s cousin, who was with him at the time of his arrest, told police that she had seen him sell crack 75 to 100 times and the amounts were typically $20 to $100. The defendant admitted selling crack and claimed his typical sales were $20 to $30.

The balance of the facts will be discussed at the relevant parts of this memorandum.

III. STATUTORY ANALYSIS

The Court, in fulfilling its remaining obligation to the defendant and the public, must examine the factors contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).

A. The Nature And Circumstances Of The Offense

Dealing drugs is a serious crime. In this case it was crack cocaine. The defendant made a few controlled buys to a confidential informant.

The government emphasized that the frequency of the defendant’s dealing is significant despite that fact that each sale was small. The prosecutor points to the fact that defendant sold crack cocaine twice in a matter of a few days, demonstrating, according to the government, that defendant was not an occasional dealer, but rather a frequent, repeat dealer.

The defense argues that the defendant is a low level street dealer who dealt in small amounts of drugs and never made any money doing so. The defendant also asserts that while he is subject to a term of incarceration, the incarceration called for by the advice of the Commission, with the career criminal aspect included, is far too great for this particular defendant.

The Court agrees that the facts and circumstances of this case, as well as defendant’s criminal history, demonstrate that the defendant is a low level street dealer. Dealing crack cocaine or any controlled substance illegally is a serious crime because of the dangers and economic havoc caused by addiction and unregulated use. This judge has presided over so many cases originating from the community where this defendant was distributing drugs that he knows only too well the horrible effects illegal drugs have had on that community.

B. The History And Characteristics Of The Defendant

The defendant has sufficient criminal history to warrant a finding by the Court, under the guideline system and the advice from the Guideline Commission, that he be categorized, labeled if you will, a “Carrier Offender.” So a recapitulation of his past conduct is in order.

At the age of 13 the defendant committed arson and received 2 years probation but no guideline points. His probation was revoked twice, resulting in extensions of his supervision twice and, ultimately, in a commitment to the juvenile division of the Department of Corrections.

In a separate but parallel arson case, Mr. Teague was sentenced to two years of probation and received no guideline points. His post judgment issues tracked those of the first offense described above.

At the age of 14, while in the group home for the arson crimes mentioned heretofore, the defendant and another juvenile stole a vehicle from the group home, and were later involved in an accident. For the conviction of the crime of receiving stolen property, Mr. Teague was sentenced to probation until his 18th birthday. He is assessed no guideline points for our present considerations. This was the subject of the previously described first petition to revoke.

While these three crimes are serious crimes committed by a youthful offender, society generally, and this judge as well, does not often place much weight in assessing a defendant’s propensity for adult criminal behavior by carefully examining his juvenile record. A truly careful analysis would undoubtedly require an equally careful examination of the youth’s home life and structure, including the nature and philosophy of discipline imposed there, and the philosophy of how one is to view authority, both persons and institutions. Such an examination would reveal whether the youthful offender had adult guidance or none, whether his actions went against the teachings of his adult role models or was consistent with it, whether the young person was being ...


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