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United States v. Winfield

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

January 18, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Paul Winfield, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued December 13, 2016

         Appeals from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. Nos. 01-cr-9-bbc-3 & 3:15CR00081-001 Barbara B. Crabb, Judge.

          Before Posner, Kanne, and Sykes, Circuit Judges.

          Per Curiam.

         These consolidated appeals raise a single issue: whether the district court erred by adjusting Paul Win-field's offense level upwards based on the court's finding that Winfield "maintained" his apartment for distributing controlled substances, see U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(12). Winfield argues that the guideline doesn't apply here because drug dealing was not among his "primary or principal" uses for the apartment, see U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 cmt. n.17. We disagree and affirm the district court's judgments.

         A police informant bought heroin and methamphetamine from Winfield during four controlled buys conducted over a twelve-week period. For the buys, all of which occurred at Winfield's apartment, the informant wore a hidden video camera. The camera recorded little useful video, but it did clearly capture the informant's conversations with Winfield.

         During the first controlled buy, the informant purchased 3 grams of heroin and reported seeing "a few ounces" of suspected heroin that Winfield had retrieved from a plastic container hidden behind a television.

         A week later, Winfield met the informant in a parking lot and asked the informant to follow him home, explaining that he needed to make a "drop" on the way. Winfield then sold the informant 3½ grams of heroin and gave the informant a sample of a substance he said contained ecstasy (later analysis showed that it actually contained methamphetamine). The video of this meeting shows two ounces of suspected heroin, a digital scale, and cash on a kitchen counter.

         The third buy took place the following month when Winfield sold the informant another 3½ grams of heroin and a gram of "ecstasy" (again, it actually contained methamphetamine). The informant reported seeing about two ounces of heroin on a plate in the kitchen and an ounce of "ecstasy" hidden in an aerosol can with a hidden compartment.

         Over a month later, Winfield sold the informant 2 grams of heroin and 5 grams of a substance containing methamphetamine (not ecstasy, as promised). Winfield retrieved the drugs from the aerosol can, and the informant said he saw about 60 grams of heroin and 30 grams of "ecstasy."

         Three days after this last buy, the police obtained a warrant and searched Winfield's apartment. They found almost $3000 in a closet, and a gram of heroin and drug paraphernalia in Winfield's girlfriend's purse. In the garage, stashed in the trunk of Winfield's car (in a brake-fluid canister that had a hidden compartment), the police also found 27 grams of methamphetamine and 38 grams of heroin.

         During a post-arrest interview, Winfield admitted that the police had not found more drugs in the apartment because "[h]e had flushed anything he had down the toilet when the SWAT team was approaching."

         A grand jury charged Winfield with distributing heroin and methamphetamine, possessing both drugs with intent to distribute, and maintaining a place for the purpose of distributing controlled substances, see 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 856(a)(1). Winfield pleaded guilty to one count of distributing heroin, and the government dropped the other counts.

         At sentencing, a probation officer recommended that Winfield receive a two-level upward adjustment because he "maintained a premises for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance, " U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(12). The officer explained that this "stash house" guideline was appropriate because each of the four controlled buys had occurred at Winfield's apartment, and in his garage the police had found drugs. Winfield objected, arguing that this evidence did not support an inference that drug dealing was ...


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