FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
MASSACHUSETTS [Hon. Patti B. Saris, Chief U.S. District
Katherine C. Essington for appellant.
Stephanie Siegmann, Assistant U.S. Attorney, with whom Carmen
M. Ortiz, United States Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.
Howard, Chief Judge, Souter, Associate Justice, [*] and Stahl, Circuit
HOWARD, Chief Judge.
Cheng challenges the reasonableness of the 108-month
incarcerative sentence he received for his role in an illicit
scheme to export pressure transducers -- sensitive goods with
nuclear applications -- from the United States to Iran
through the People's Republic of China. We affirm.
2009 and 2011, Cheng caused at least 1, 185 MKS Instruments,
Inc. ("MKS") Model 722A pressure transducers to be
exported from the United States to Iran via China. Cheng
placed numerous orders for the pressure transducers,
participated in fraudulently obtaining U.S. export licenses
for them, and was involved in stripping them of their MKS
serial numbers and repackaging them in order to conceal the
fact that they were being shipped in violation of U.S. export
laws and the U.S. embargo against Iran. Cheng engaged in this
course of conduct despite knowing that the MKS pressure
transducers would be used at Iran's uranium enrichment
facilities to advance the country's nuclear weapons
program. Further, at various points, he expressed animosity
towards the United States and invoked the specter of
"WORLD WAR THREE" in an apparent effort to drum up
being extradited from the United Kingdom to the United
States, Cheng pleaded guilty to six counts of a ten-count
indictment, including: conspiracy to commit export violations
in violation of 50 U.S.C. § 1705; conspiracy to smuggle
goods in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; and four counts
of unlawfully exporting U.S. goods to Iran in violation of 50
U.S.C. § 1705.
parties and the Probation Office agreed that U.S.S.G.
§2M5.1 was the applicable Guideline and that -- after
applying a three-level reduction for acceptance of
responsibility under §3E1.1 -- the total offense level
was 23. When combined with Cheng's Criminal History
Category of I, this yielded an advisory Guidelines sentencing
range of forty-six to fifty-seven months' imprisonment.
Cheng's sentencing hearing, however, the district court
upwardly departed six levels based on Application Note 2 to
U.S.S.G. §2M5.1. Application Note 2 provides that an
upward departure may be warranted where the following factors
are "present in an extreme form:" "the degree
to which the violation threatened a security interest of the
United States, the volume of commerce involved, the extent of
planning or sophistication, and whether there were multiple
occurrences." U.S.S.G. §2M5.1 cmt. (n.2). The
district court explained that "[a]ll of those
factors" were present to an extreme degree and observed
that "[i]t's almost as if someone were writing
[Application Note 2] for this case." The court therefore
determined that the total offense level -- after the
six-level upward departure -- was 29 and imposed a sentence
of 108 months, the upper end of the Guidelines sentencing
appeal timely followed.
appeal, Cheng's overarching claim is that this 108-month
incarcerative sentence is unreasonable. Specifically, he
argues: that the sentencing court erred in departing from the
Guidelines under Application Note 2; that his sentence was
disproportionate to sentences in similar and related cases;
and that his ...