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United States v. Boatman

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

May 15, 2015

EDWARD BOATMAN, Defendant-Appellant

Argued November 10, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 12 CR 367 -- James B. Zagel, Judge.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee: Timothy J. Storino, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Chicago, IL.

EDWARD D. BOATMAN, Defendant - Appellant: Carol A. Brook, Attorney, Piyush Chandra, Attorney, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL DEFENDER PROGRAM, Chicago, IL.

Before WOOD, Chief Judge, and ROVNER and HAMILTON, Circuit Judges.


Page 591

Wood, Chief Judge.

This appeal concerns the sentence tat Edward Boatman received after he pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). After two hearings, the district court gave him a below-Guidelines term of 76 months' imprisonment and three years' supervised release. In so doing, it rejected his request for a sentence of time served with community-based drug treatment. Boatman argues that this sentence was procedurally flawed, because the district court failed to give meaningful consideration to his requested disposition. Boatman's theory demands more of the district court than the law requires, however, and so we affirm its sentence.

Page 592


On January 15, 2012, Boatman walked into a TCF Bank branch in Stickney, Illinois, and gave the teller the following note: " Fill The Bag With Stacks of 50's and 20's. I have a gun and will use it. If u decide to Put a ink bomb in the bag, Either I'll be back for you or my partner. Chose your moves carefully [ sic ]." The teller complied by putting some money in a brown bag and giving it to Boatman. Boatman peered in the bag and told the teller that he wanted coins. The teller obliged him, and Boatman walked out. An audit of the teller's drawer revealed that Boatman had robbed the bank of approximately $334.50.

It was not long before a federal grand jury indicted Boatman for his crime, and on August 30, 2013, he entered a guilty plea. In its presentence report, the Probation Office concluded that Boatman was a career offender. Following U.S. Sentencing Guideline § 4B1.1(b)(3), it calculated an offense level of 29 (using a base of 32 and subtracting three levels for acceptance of responsibility) and a criminal history of VI. Had Boatman not been a career offender, his base offense level would have been 20 under § 2B3.1(a); with two levels added for taking property of a financial institution, two added for a threat of death, and three subtracted for acceptance, his final offense level would have been 21. That level, along with criminal history category III (calculated on the basis of his four criminal history points), would have resulted in an advisory range of 46-57 months. In its sentencing memorandum, the government argued that Boatman's two qualifying predicate convictions for career offender status, which together involved 0.8 grams of heroin that he sold for $40, were insignificant and accordingly warranted a downward departure from the Guidelines range. The prosecutor recommended a sentence of 120 months.

Boatman also filed a sentencing memorandum, but he urged the court to impose a much lighter sentence. He stressed that without the career-offender enhancement, the low end of his Guidelines range would have been 46 months. He requested a sentence of time served (approximately 24 months) and drug treatment based on his long history of substance abuse problems involving cocaine and heroin. In support of this request, Boatman submitted a detailed report by a mitigation specialist who was also a certified addiction counselor. He also proffered empirical studies indicating that community-based treatment more effectively prevents recidivism.

The court held what turned out to be the first day of its sentencing hearing on April 14, 2014. Boatman's counsel discussed at some length the reasons for such a substantial deviation from the career-offender range; the government countered with information about the seriousness of Boatman's offense, emphasizing Boatman's express threat to the teller. Ultimately the court decided to continue the hearing until April 22 so that it could consider " how long [the court must] put him in or continue his incarceration to maximize his chance of getting into [the Residential Drug Abuse Program]" (the Program) run by the Bureau of Prisons (the Bureau). Before the hearing resumed, the government submitted a supplemental sentencing memorandum directing the court's attention to Tapia v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 2382, 2393, 180 ...

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