United States v. Altagracia Suarez

UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 16-4802 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff – Appellee, v. ALTAGRACIA ACOSTA SUAREZ, a/k/a Charo, Defendant – Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Norfolk. Henry Coke Morgan, Jr., Senior District Judge. (2:14-cr-00119-HCM-RJK-5) Submitted: December 21, 2017 Decided: February 12, 2018 Before DUNCAN, KEENAN, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished opinion. Judge Duncan wrote the opinion, in which Judge Keenan and Judge Diaz joined. Andrew M. Stewart, DENNIS, STEWART, KRISCHER, & TERPAK, PLLC, Arlington, Virginia, for Appellant. Dana J. Boente, United States Attorney, Alexandria, Virginia, Darryl J. Mitchell, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Norfolk, Virginia, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. DUNCAN, Circuit Judge: Defendant-Appellant Altagracia Acosta Suarez was charged with several drug- related offenses. On November 9, 2015, she pleaded guilty to one count of using communication facilities to cause, commit or facilitate a felony violation of the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 843(b). The district court initially accepted her plea but, after questioning Acosta Suarez, it determined that she continued to deny criminal intent. The court thus rejected her plea. Next, Acosta Suarez pleaded guilty to distribution of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and aiding and abetting the distribution of cocaine, 18 U.S.C. § 2. Again, the district court accepted her plea and subsequently reversed course. This time, it rejected Acosta Suarez’s plea because she did not completely admit her guilt and because her plea was based on a misunderstanding of the corresponding plea agreement. We affirm the district court’s rejection of both pleas, holding that the court exercised its discretion soundly. I. In 2012, Acosta Suarez sold cocaine to her coworkers on several occasions. By May 2013, however, she seems to have stopped selling drugs directly. Instead, she became an intermediary between a local drug dealer, German Ponce, and one of her colleagues, Calvin Murphy. For the next year, Acosta Suarez regularly used her cell phone to schedule cocaine sales between Ponce and Murphy. In June 2014, officers from the Drug Enforcement Agency observed one of these sales and arrested Ponce. A few months later, they arrested Acosta Suarez. 2 During most of the relevant period, Acosta Suarez’s husband was a confidential informant for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (“ICE”). Acosta Suarez was not. II. On December 17, 2014, Acosta Suarez was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and two counts of using communication facilities--i.e., a cell phone--to facilitate felony violations of the Controlled Substances Act. On March 23, 2015, Acosta Suarez signed a plea agreement in which she agreed to plead guilty to one count of using communication facilities to help violate the Controlled Substances Act and the government agreed to drop the remaining charges. The case was then assigned to a magistrate judge, who conducted Acosta Suarez’s plea hearing. At the hearing, the magistrate judge ...

Original document
Source: All recent Immigration Decisions In All the U.S. Courts of Appeals