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United States v. Longoria

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

November 1, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
ADAM LONGORIA, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 8:16-cr-00335-JDW-JSS-1

          Before TJOFLAT, MARCUS, and JORDAN, Circuit Judges.

          PER CURIAM:

          Adam Longoria was convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon[1] and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison under an Armed Career Criminal Act ("ACCA") sentence enhancement.[2] This ACCA sentence enhancement, applicable when a defendant has "three previous convictions . . . for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another, "[3] was based upon three previous serious drug-related convictions: two counts of distribution of cocaine[4] and one count of participation in a conspiracy with intent to distribute cocaine.[5]

         Longoria appeals his conviction and sentence on four grounds. Three are squarely foreclosed by our precedent. See infra part IV. Longoria's first issue, whether the District Court erred in determining that he had three predicate offenses that occurred on different occasions under the ACCA, is also unavailing. Accordingly, we affirm his conviction and sentence.

         I.

         In 2009, Longoria was charged with one count of participation in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and two counts of distribution of cocaine, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The indictment charged that the conspiracy occurred from an "unknown date which was no later than December, 2007, through on or about December 10, 2008." The indictment also charged that the two distribution offenses occurred on November 24, 2008 and December 3, 2008.

         Longoria pleaded guilty to each of the three counts. He admitted to the following facts in his plea agreement.[6] Longoria told undercover detectives that his co-defendant, Richard Caraballo, could sell them kilograms of cocaine for $20, 000 per kilogram. Undercover detectives contacted Longoria on November 24, 2008, and Longoria arranged a meeting between the detectives and Caraballo. The detectives purchased five and a half grams of cocaine from Caraballo on that date. Longoria and Caraballo met with the detectives again on December 3, 2008, when the detectives purchased thirty-five grams of cocaine. One week later, on December 10, Longoria met with the detectives to verify that they had $20, 000 to purchase one kilogram of cocaine from Caraballo before the detectives went to Caraballo's house. Authorities later discovered 1, 142 grams of cocaine at Caraballo's house.

         Longoria was sentenced to thirty-seven months in prison in April 2010. The judgment stated that the distribution offenses ended on November 24 and December 3, 2008, and the conspiracy offense ended on December 10, 2008. Longoria was incarcerated and later left prison under supervised release.

         In 2016, Longoria was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Longoria pleaded guilty and admitted the following facts.[7] In March 2015, while on supervised release, Longoria had arranged via Facebook to sell a rifle to an undercover detective for $300. He told the detective that he was a felon and that his wife would carry out the sale.[8] The detective met with the woman, and she exchanged the rifle with him for $300. Longoria called the detective after the sale to explain that he had been afraid to sell the rifle in person because of his past arrest.

         The maximum sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), without a sentence enhancement, is ten years in prison. Longoria's plea agreement noted this maximum. The Probation Office, however, later indicated that Longoria qualified as an armed career criminal under the ACCA and was subject to a fifteen-year statutory minimum sentence. After this discovery, the District Court gave Longoria the opportunity to withdraw his plea. He declined. The District Court then examined Longoria's 2009 plea agreement and the transcript of the change-of-plea hearing, and, relying upon the three counts relating to the incidents of November 24, December 3, and December 10, 2008, determined that the "three previous convictions" constituted "serious drug offense[s] . . . committed on occasions different from one another."[9] 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1). Consequently, the District Court sentenced Longoria to fifteen years in prison.[10]

         Longoria appeals his conviction and sentence on four grounds. First, he claims that the District Court erred by finding that his three predicate offenses occurred on "occasions different from one another" to qualify for a sentence enhancement under the ACCA. Second, he claims the District Court improperly considered "non-elemental facts, " the dates of his prior convictions, in determining that they qualified as serious drug offenses that occurred on different occasions under the ACCA. Third, he claims that his sentence enhancement violated his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Fourth, he raises a new argument that his statute of conviction, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), is beyond Congress's grant of power under the United States Constitution's Commerce Clause and is therefore unconstitutional.

          II.

         This Court reviews de novo whether prior offenses meet the ACCA's different-occasions requirement. United States v. Sneed, 600 F.3d 1326, 1330 n.5 (11th Cir. 2010). We also review de novo whether a prior conviction qualifies as a serious drug offense for purposes of the ACCA.[11]United States v. Braun, 801 F.3d 1301, 1303 (11th Cir. 2015). Constitutional challenges to sentences are reviewed de novo. United States v. Weeks, 711 F.3d 1255, 1259 (11th Cir. 2013). Longoria's second constitutional claim, a Commerce Clause challenge to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), is reviewed for plain error because he raises it for the first time on appeal. United States v. Wright, 607 F.3d 708, 715 (11th Cir. 2010). Plain error occurs "if (1) there was error, (2) that was plain, (3) that affected the defendant's ...


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