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United States v. Castro-Ponce

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

October 24, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
INDALECIO CASTRO-PONCE, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted, Seattle, Washington September 9, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. D.C. No. 2:12-cr-01363-SRB-1. Susan R. Bolton, District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[*]

Criminal Law

The panel vacated a sentence enhancement for obstruction of justice pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3C1.1 and remanded for resentencing.

The panel held that the enhancement was incorrectly applied because the district court, which expressly found that the defendant's testimony was false, did not explicitly find that the testimony was willful and material.

Lynn T. Hamilton (argued), Hamilton Law Office, Mesa, Arizona, for Defendant-Appellant.

Krissa M. Lanham (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; Mark S. Kokanovich, Deputy Appellate Chief; and John S. Leonardo, United States Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before: Stephen Reinhardt, Ronald M. Gould, and Marsha S. Berzon, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 820

GOULD, Circuit Judge:

During his trial on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, appellant Indalecio Castro-Ponce (" Castro-Ponce" ) testified in his own defense. His testimony included elaborate explanations for his purportedly suspicious activities. Castro-Ponce was convicted of the possession and conspiracy to possess charges. At the sentencing hearing, the district court imposed enhancements for obstruction of justice and for Castro-Ponce's leadership role in the drug conspiracy. Castro-Ponce appeals the obstruction of justice enhancement.[1] We

Page 821

have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1291. Because the district court did not make explicit findings that Castro-Ponce's false statements were willful and material, we vacate ...


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