Criminal Sentence Obstruction of justice.


Byline: Mass. Lawyers Weekly Staff

Where a defendant who pleaded guilty to conspiring to possess and distribute 40 grams or more of fentanyl was sentenced to 204 months in prison, his sentence should be affirmed despite his argument that the lower court erred by imposing an obstruction of justice enhancement and denying him credit for acceptance of responsibility.


"The government first received a tip in 2014 that a man named 'Tony' later found to be the defendant was running a drug trafficking organization in Nashua, New Hampshire and Lawrence, Massachusetts. In 2015 and 2016, the government monitored six controlled purchases of fentanyl between the defendant and two confidential sources. At his change-of-plea hearing, the defendant admitted to taking part in four of these sales, which together involved 49.4 grams of fentanyl.

"When the defendant was arrested, in April 2017, he refused to provide his name. He then claimed, at all times up to and through his sentencing, to be Juan Garcia from Bayamn, Puerto Rico. The defendant's fingerprints, however, were linked to a man named Alejandro Villar Dume from Bani, Dominican Republic, who had been processed by Dominican authorities in 2010. The defendant's ex-girlfriend and Dume's cousin both identified the defendant as Dume, not Garcia, and several other witnesses confirmed that the defendant was from the Dominican Republic, not Puerto Rico.

"The government also uncovered evidence that the date of birth, place of birth, parentage, and social security number that the defendant provided belonged to a man named Juan Ramon Garcia Fuentes. The photographs associated with Fuentes' Puerto Rico driver's license and passport application did not match the defendant, and Fuentes' brother told authorities that the defendant was not Fuentes.

"The defendant refused to discuss his life before age twelve with the probation and pre-trial services officer, and some of the information that he gave about his personal history after that age did not check out. The pre-sentence investigation report ('PSR') concluded that the defendant 'had not been truthful about his identity,' and recommended that he receive a two-level obstruction-of-justice enhancement under Guideline 3C1.1 and no credit for acceptance of responsibility under Guideline 3E1.1, despite his guilty plea. The PSR further determined that the defendant qualified as a career offender under Guideline 4B1.1(b)(2) because he had previously been...

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