United States of America Plaintiff - Appellee v. Mario Marquell Ward Defendant - Appellant

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United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

United States of America Plaintiff - Appellee v. Mario Marquell Ward Defendant - Appellant

No. 15-3112

    Decided: May 27, 2016

Before COLLOTON, ARNOLD, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

After Mario Ward entered into an agreement with the government pleading guilty to possessing stolen firearms, see 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(j) and 924(a)(2), the district court 1 sentenced him to eight years' imprisonment, which was two years below the Guidelines's recommendation and the statutory maximum. Ward contends on appeal that his sentence is substantively unreasonable and that the district court failed to enforce his plea agreement according to its terms. The government moved to dismiss the appeal pursuant to an appeal waiver in the plea agreement, but we decline to address that issue and conclude that the district court did not abuse its sentencing discretion or otherwise err. See United States v. Franklin, 695 F.3d 753, 756 n.2 (8th Cir. 2012).

Ward maintains that his sentence is substantively unreasonable because the district court failed to reduce his sentence for acceptance of responsibility. When the district court lowered Ward's offense level for acceptance of responsibility, his Guidelines range was unaffected because his extensive criminal history yielded a Guidelines range exceeding the statutory maximum sentence. The statutory maximum therefore became the Guidelines's recommended sentence, see U.S.S.G. § 5G1.1(a), and the district court sentenced Ward below the Guidelines range for reasons other than his acceptance of responsibility. We reject Ward's argument that his below-Guidelines sentence is substantively unreasonable because “it is nearly inconceivable that the court abused its discretion in not varying downward still further.” United States v. Worthey, 716 F.3d 1107, 1116 (8th Cir. 2013). And our review of the record reveals that the district court considered Ward's acceptance of responsibility and properly weighed the considerations set out in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) in fixing his sentence.

Ward's argument that the district court failed to enforce his plea agreement according to its terms is also without merit. See United States v. Jensen, 423 F.3d 851, 853–54 (8th Cir. 2005). In the plea agreement, the government merely stipulated that Ward was eligible for an acceptance-of-responsibility reduction. Nowhere did the government promise that Ward would receive a lower sentence as a result of his acceptance of responsibility.

We affirm, and we deny the government's motion to dismiss as moot.

FOOTNOTES

1.   The Honorable J. Leon Holmes, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

PER CURIAM.

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