Skip to main content

UNITED STATES v. ROMERO (2019)

Reset A A Font size: Print

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Abel ROMERO, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 19-2069

Decided: October 25, 2019

Before LUCERO, PHILLIPS, and EID, Circuit Judges. Jack Edward Burkhead, Office of the United States Attorney, District of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Ryan Ellison, DOJ-USAO, District of New Mexico, Las Cruces Office, Las Cruces, NM, Dustin Segovia, Office of the United States Attorney, District of New Mexico, Las Cruces, NM, for Plaintiff-Appellee Abel Romero, Pro Se

ORDER AND JUDGMENT *

Abel Romero appeals the district court’s denial of his motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). Exercising jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, we affirm.

I

Romero pled guilty to several drug and firearms charges pursuant to a Fed. R Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement, stipulating to a total sentence of 131 months’ imprisonment. His presentence investigation report grouped all counts of conviction for purposes of calculating his base offense level. Accordingly, Romero’s offense level was determined based on the count with the highest offense level. See U.S.S.G. § 3D1.3(a) (2013).1 In Romero’s case, that count was being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e). Under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1, his base offense level was 26. His total offense level was 31. With a criminal history category of VI, Romero’s advisory sentencing range was 188 to 235 months for the drug charges and 120 months for the gun charges (based on the statutory maximum). The district court adopted those calculations but imposed the 131-month total sentence contained in the plea agreement.

Several years later, Romero filed a document asking whether he was eligible for a sentence reduction. The district court construed the filing as a motion to reduce sentence under § 3582(c). After ordering a response from the government, the court denied Romero’s motion. Romero now appeals.

II

We review a district court’s denial of a § 3582(c) motion for reduction of sentence for abuse of discretion. United States v. Sharkey, 543 F.3d 1236, 1238 (10th Cir. 2008). That statutory provision allows district courts to reduce the sentence “of a defendant who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered.” § 3582(c)(2).

Romero contends that the district court erred by rejecting his motion because he entered into a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) agreement. The Supreme Court has explained that many defendants sentenced under a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) agreement are eligible for sentence reductions. United States v. Hughes, ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S. Ct. 1765, 1776-77, 201 L.Ed.2d 72 (2018). However, even after Hughes, a defendant is ineligible for relief under § 3582(c) if his sentencing calculations are not affected by a retroactive Guidelines amendment. United States v. Hodge, 721 F.3d 1279, 1281 (10th Cir. 2013). That is the case here. Romero points to Guidelines Amendment 782, which lowered the offense levels assigned to the drug quantities in U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1. U.S.S.G. app. C suppl., amend. 782. But as explained above, Romero’s offense level was not based on drug quantity, but on U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1. Accordingly, the district court correctly denied his motion.2

Romero also argues that his sentence should be reduced under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b). However, the rules of civil procedure do not apply in criminal cases. United States v. McCalister, 601 F.3d 1086, 1087-88 (10th Cir. 2010). We have previously held that “Rule 60(b) is not available to challenge a previous denial of a § 3582(c) motion.” Id. at 1088.

III

AFFIRMED. Romero’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED.

FOOTNOTES

1.   All Guidelines citations are to the 2013 version of the Guidelines Manual that was used in Romero’s original sentencing.

2.   Romero states that he could not be sentenced as a career offender because the government agreed not to charge him as such. The government agreed not to pursue enhanced penalties under 21 U.S.C. § 851. That agreement is unrelated to his eligibility for the career offender Guideline enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1.

Carlos F. Lucero, Circuit Judge

Copied to clipboard