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United States v. Meek

filed: July 22, 1992.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
RICHARD L. MEEK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. D.C. No. CR-90-159-PHX-EHC. Earl H. Carroll, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: Wallace, Chief Judge, Goodwin and Poole, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM

Meek appeals his sentence under the Sentencing Guidelines after a guilty plea to one count of connecting parts of different notes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 484. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Meek was indicted on May 2, 1990, on one count of uttering counterfeit obligations, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 472 (Count 1), and one count of connecting parts of different notes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 484 (Count 2). The indictment alleged that Meek entered a Taco Bell restaurant in Phoenix on December 29, 1988, and handed the cashier an altered federal reserve note --a one dollar bill with the ends of a ten dollar bill glued over the corners. Meek asked for change. Not fooled, the Taco Bell manager called the police. Meek was subsequently arrested and found in possession of another altered note, 23 sets of ten dollar bill corners, scissors, and glue. Meek confessed and informed investigators that he had previously attempted to pass another altered note at a Circle K store but had been foiled there as well.

Meek was arrested on September 18, 1991. After a detention hearing the next day, he was released on a $25,000 bond. Meek originally pled not guilty but changed his plea to guilty on November 7, 1991. Under the plea agreement, Meek agreed to plead guilty to Count 2 and waive all appeal rights in exchange for the government's dismissal of Count 1.

Meek was arrested twice while on pretrial release, first on October 29 for aggravated assault on a man staying with Meek's ex-girlfriend and then on November 8 for trespassing at the same residence. Two weeks later, Meek skipped bail.

On December 12, 1991, Pretrial Services filed a petition with the district court to revoke Meek's release. The petition stated that Meek had not reported to Pretrial Services since November 19 and that his whereabouts were unknown. Meek was subsequently arrested on December 11 and detained pending sentencing. On December 16, 1991, Meek appeared before the court and admitted the allegations in the revocation petition. He explained that he had disregarded the conditions of his release in order to work out "personal problems" with his girlfriend. He stated: "I am happy that I did what I did, because I did save the relationship."

At the January 27, 1992 sentencing hearing, the district court rejected the plea agreement because of a stipulation that would have allowed Meek to withdraw his plea if the court imposed a two-level increase for committing an offense involving more than minimal planning. The court set a trial date, and the parties promptly negotiated another plea agreement. Under the second agreement, Meek agreed to plead guilty to Count 2 and to waive his appeal rights unless the district court imposed an upward adjustment for obstruction of Justice.

On February 27, 1992, the district court sentenced Meek to 10 months imprisonment and 36 months supervised release. The court increased Meek's base offense level by two levels because Meek had obstructed Justice by jumping bail and by two more levels because the offense involved more than minimal planning. The court also relied on the fact that Meek had skipped bail in declining to give Meek a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility. Meek timely appealed.

Discussion

A. The Obstruction of Justice Enhancement

Meek argues that he did not obstruct Justice when he failed to report to the Pretrial Services officer as directed by the district court. The Sentencing Guidelines provide for a two-level enhancement in a defendant's base offense level:

If the defendant willfully obstructed or impeded, or attempted to obstruct or impede, the administration of Justice during the investigation, ...


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