United States v. Arnaldo Echevarria

NOT PRECEDENTIAL UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT _____________ No. 17-3382 _____________ UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. ARNALDO ECHEVARRIA, Appellant _____________ On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. No. 2-16-cr-00073-001) District Judge: Hon. Esther Salas _______________ Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) April 26, 2018 Before: JORDAN, BIBAS, and SCIRICA, Circuit Judges (Filed: April 30, 2018) _______________ OPINION ∗ _______________ JORDAN, Circuit Judge. A jury convicted Arnaldo Echevarria of various crimes he committed during his employment with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency ∗ This disposition is not an opinion of the full court and, pursuant to I.O.P. 5.7, does not constitute binding precedent. (“ICE”). Echevarria appeals his sentence, arguing that the District Court erred when calculating his offense level under the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”) because it declined to grant him a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1(a). For the reasons that follow, we will affirm. I. BACKGROUND Echevarria served as a deportation officer with ICE. In February 2016, the government filed a nine-count indictment against him in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey alleging that, from 2011 to 2014, he abused his position by agreeing to receive and receiving bribes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 201(b)(2) and 2, harboring an alien, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) and (B)(ii), and making false statements, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001. The indictment specifically alleged that Echevarria had accepted bribes from undocumented immigrants in exchange for work permits that allowed them to remain in the United States, had falsified the immigration status of some immigrants, and had operated a business with and attempted to shield from ICE detection an undocumented immigrant with whom he was romantically involved. Echevarria pled not guilty and exercised his constitutional right to proceed to trial. At trial, he argued that the government lacked credible evidence that he had committed the alleged crimes. During cross-examination, Echevarria attacked the accuracy and credibility of the government’s witnesses, and in closing arguments, asked the jury to reject their testimony and to conclude that the government had failed to meet its burden of proof. 2 After a seven-day trial, the jury convicted Echevarria on eight of the nine counts. During his presentence interview, Echevarria maintained his innocence, and the Probation Office circulated a draft Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) that concluded an adjustment for acceptance of responsibility under § 3E1.1 was not appropriate. After receiving the draft PSR, defense counsel advised the Probation Office that Echevarria had accepted the jury’s verdict and had accepted responsibility for his actions. Echevarria thus objected to the PSR’s denial of a three-level reduction in his offense level calculation under § 3E1.1. The government opposed that objection. In the final PSR, the Probation Office adhered to its initial conclusion that a § 3E1.1 reduction was inapplicable, and, based on an offense level of 28, it calculated a recommended sentence of ...

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