U.S. v. Muhammad
At sentencing, a District Court may rely on personal observations and evidence from tapes and reports when it considers whether the defendant's mental health constitutes a mitigating factor. Kevin Sims pled guilty to distributing 5 grams or more of cocaine base, and he was sentenced to 120 months. In his appeal, Sims claimed the District Court wrongly attributed more than 112 grams of crack cocaine to him and failed to consider his mental illness. Relying on wiretap evidence and testimony, the District Court estimated that Sims purchased 145 to 154 grams of crack cocaine from co-conspirators. Sims failed to prove the estimate was conjectural. The District Court did not abuse its discretion when, based on personal observations and evidence from tapes and reports, it concluded that his mental health did not contribute significantly to his criminal conduct. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the 120-month sentence. Another defendant, Lut Muhammad, pled guilty to distributing 50 grams or more of cocaine base. He was sentenced to 240 months. In his appeal, Muhammad claimed the District Court wrongly concluded that he purchased 2.8 kilograms of cocaine base. The District Court relied on testimony that Muhammad initially purchased 40 to 50 grams of crack cocaine every four to five days and that the amount gradually increased to 140 to 150 grams of crack cocaine per purchase. The 2nd Circuit found no error in the conclusion that Muhammad purchased 1,040 grams. A jury convicted another defendant, Okeiba Sadio, of distributing 50 grams or more of cocaine base. He was sentenced to 240 months. In his appeal, Sadio claimed that a search of his residence violated the Fourth Amendment. Surveillance and wiretaps provided probable cause to believe that drug trafficking evidence existed. Officers found 93 grams of crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia and cash. Wiretaps indicated he frequently purchased large quantities. A jury reasonably could conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Sadio intended to distribute drugs. The 2nd Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court, Thompson, J. Andrew Greenlee, Yvonne Shivers and Randall Unger represented the defendants. Robert Spector, Sandra Glover and David Fein represented the government.