from the United States District Court No.
4:15-cr-00024-RH-CAS-1 for the Northern District of Florida
TJOFLAT, HULL, and O'MALLEY [*] , Circuit Judges.
Paul Pridgeon appeals his sentence totaling eighty-four
months' imprisonment. A jury convicted Pridgeon of one
count of possession with intent to distribute five grams or
more methamphetamine and one count of distribution of
methamphetamine. On appeal, Pridgeon contends that the
district court erred in sentencing him as a career offender
under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. After careful
review and with the benefit of oral argument, we affirm
Facts Underlying Pridgeon's Convictions
early morning hours of March 1, 2015, around four-thirty or
five o'clock, defendant Pridgeon called his neighbor,
Jessie Boyington. During that call, Pridgeon asked Boyington
for help, telling Boyington that someone assaulted him.
Boyington went to Pridgeon's trailer home, where he found
Pridgeon badly beaten. Pridgeon asked Boyington to drive him
to the hospital, but Boyington called emergency services
Boyington called for an ambulance, defendant Pridgeon walked
out of his trailer with something in his hand. Pridgeon asked
Boyington to "put something up for him, " but
Boyington refused. Boyington then watched Pridgeon walk
toward a toolbox sitting on the ground outside the trailer.
Boyington stayed with Pridgeon until an ambulance arrived.
six o'clock that same morning, before the ambulance took
Pridgeon away, Deputy Joseph Clement of the Taylor County
Sheriff's Office arrived at Pridgeon's home. Upon
arrival, Deputy Clement spoke briefly with Pridgeon about the
assault. Deputy Clement then spoke with Boyington, who
pointed out Pridgeon's toolbox. Deputy Clement inspected
the area around the toolbox and found a bag containing two
pill bottles and an electronic scale. According to Deputy
Clement, one of the pill bottles contained a substance that
appeared to be crystal methamphetamine and the other
contained what appeared to be marijuana. With the help of
other investigators, Deputy Clement then secured and
processed the scene around Pridgeon's home.
on the morning of March 1, 2015, Investigator Rusty Davis,
also of the Taylor County Sheriff's Office, interviewed
Pridgeon at Doctor's Memorial Hospital in Taylor County.
At this initial interview, Pridgeon told Davis that he was
with an individual named Pamela Painter just before the
assault. Pridgeon also told Davis that, around two
o'clock in the morning, while Pamela Painter was with
him, he walked out of his trailer and was beaten by an
unknown man wielding a crowbar. At trial, Davis testified
that Pridgeon was "evasive" about why Pamela
Painter was at his trailer at that time of night. Davis
further testified that he knew Pamela Painter was married to
an individual named Billy Painter and that he suspected the
incident was related to a drug deal.
March 2, 2015, after defendant Pridgeon was transported to a
different hospital in Tallahassee, Davis met with Pridgeon
for a second interview. This time, Davis was accompanied by
two other investigators, one of whom recorded the
conversation. At trial, the prosecution played the recording
for the jury. Davis testified that Pridgeon spoke to him
voluntarily and was aware that the conversation was being
this March 2, 2015 interview, Pridgeon admitted to
investigators that he tried to hide drugs while Boyington was
at his trailer the morning of the assault. The majority of
the conversation, however, focused on who may have attacked
Pridgeon and what may have motivated the attacker. At one
point during the conversation, Davis asked Pridgeon whether
the assault could have been part of an effort to rob Pridgeon
during a drug deal.
determine whether defendant Pridgeon was trafficking in
narcotics, Davis and other law enforcement officers developed
a confidential source to help them conduct a controlled
purchase of methamphetamine from Pridgeon. Before the
controlled purchase, investigators recorded a phone
conversation in which the confidential source agreed to buy
two grams of methamphetamine from Pridgeon.
18, 2015, while law enforcement surveilled and recorded the
meeting, the confidential source met with and purchased
approximately two grams of methamphetamine from Pridgeon.
During the controlled purchase, Pridgeon asked the
confidential source whether he would be willing to help him
sell drugs, but the confidential source declined. After
leaving the meeting with Pridgeon, the confidential source
turned the narcotics over to the investigators. The
investigators then sent the methamphetamine-both the amount
seized from Pridgeon's residence after the assault and
the amount recovered from the controlled purchase-to a lab
for chemical analysis. Based on the average purity of drugs
involved in this type of transaction and the quantities
recovered from Pridgeon, the chemist determined that, in
total, the drugs contained over seventeen grams of pure
7, 2015, a grand jury indicted defendant Pridgeon on one
count of possessing with intent to distribute five grams or
more of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a) and 841(b)(1)(B)(viii), and one count of
distribution of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a) and 841(b)(1)(C). Pridgeon pled not
guilty and proceeded to trial before a jury on September 14
and 15, 2015. At the close of the government's case,
Pridgeon declined to testify and the defense rested without
presenting evidence. On September 15, 2015, the jury found
Pridgeon guilty on both counts in the indictment.
advance of Pridgeon's sentencing, the probation officer
prepared a Presentence Investigation Report
("PSR"). Applying the 2014 Sentencing Guidelines,
the PSR indicated a base offense level of twenty-six and
criminal history score of nine, yielding a criminal history
category of IV. Without a career offender increase,
Pridgeon's guidelines range was 92 to 115 months'
imprisonment. U.S.S.G. ch. 5, pt. A (U.S. Sentencing
indicated, however, that Pridgeon previously was convicted of
several Florida felony offenses. In 1997, Pridgeon was
convicted of resisting an officer with violence. And in 2006,
Pridgeon was convicted of sale or delivery of a controlled
substance and possession of a controlled substance with
intent to sell, in violation of § 893.13 of the Florida
Statutes. Based on these convictions and the other relevant
factors, the PSR applied the career offender increase to
Pridgeon's guidelines range calculation. U.S.S.G. §
4B1.1. With the career offender increase, Pridgeon's
offense level was thirty-four and his criminal history
category was VI. Id. § 4B1.1(b). This resulted
in a guideline range of 262 to 327 months' imprisonment.
U.S.S.G. ch. 5, pt. A.
November 12, 2015, Pridgeon filed a response to the PSR in
which he objected to the application of the career offender
increase. In particular, Pridgeon argued that his 2006 drug
convictions did not qualify as predicate "controlled
substance offenses" within the ...