APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF PUERTO RICO. Hon. Francisco A. Besosa, U.S. District Judge.
Jane Elizabeth Lee on brief for appellant.
Nelson Pérez-Sosa, Assistant United States Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, Susan Jorgensen, Assistant United States Attorney, and Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.
Before Howard, Chief Judge, Lynch and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
KAYATTA, Circuit Judge.
Following his guilty plea to one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, Omar Paulino-Guzman (" Guzman" ) appeals his 60-month sentence on the grounds that it is substantively unreasonable. After careful review of the record, we find that the district court did not abuse its discretion in relying in part on the sentence's supposed deterrent effect to justify an upward variance from a recommended sentencing range of 41-51 months.
In the early morning of November 28, 2013, the Puerto Rico Police Department was alerted that a gas station's security alarm had been activated. When agents arrived at the gas station, they discovered that its front door had been broken. Nearby, they found a vehicle with its engine running and with no people inside. Soon thereafter, the agents saw two people__one of whom was later identified as Guzman__running out of the gas station with merchandise. Guzman got into the waiting vehicle and drove away. The agents followed Guzman and saw him crash the vehicle, scramble out, and flee. The police approached the vehicle and saw a loaded firearm, as well as a magazine with five additional rounds.
Guzman was arrested later that day and charged with one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. On
February 13, 2014, Guzman entered into a plea agreement with the government. Under the agreement, Guzman pled guilty, and both parties agreed to recommend that the court impose a prison term within the United States Sentencing Guidelines range corresponding to Guzman's total adjusted offense level of 21. The court accepted Guzman's plea as knowingly and voluntarily made and ordered the probation office to prepare a Presentence Investigation Report (" PSR" ).
The PSR, as ultimately revised, calculated a criminal history score of 3, which placed Guzman in criminal history category (" CHC" ) II. The PSR calculated the guidelines sentencing range associated with a total offense level of 21 and a CHC of II as 41-51 months.
Guzman's sentencing hearing took place on July 23, 2014. Defense counsel, citing Guzman's low education level, troubled family background, drug problems, and aspirations to vocational training, recommended a low-end guidelines sentence of 41 months. The government, emphasizing that Guzman had been arrested only after he had caused property damage to a gas station and recklessly fled the scene, and referring to Guzman's past firearms offenses and pending state charges for the damage done to the gas station, recommended a high-end guidelines sentence of 51 months. The court reviewed the terms of the PSR and Guzman's criminal history, as well as " several juvenile adjudications which, though not considered for criminal history category points, may be considered by the Court as part of the [sentencing] factors" laid out in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). After noting that the PSR " satisfactorily reflects the components of [Guzman's] offense by considering its nature and circumstances," the court reviewed in considerable detail Puerto Rico's struggle with a high rate of murders, the role of firearms in those murders, and the perception that punishing the ...