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United States v. Santiago

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

December 24, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
JOSE ALIBAL SANTIAGO, Defendant, Appellant

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND. Hon. William E. Smith, U.S. District Judge.

Victoria M. Bonilla-Argudo, with whom Bourbeau & Bonilla, LLP was on brief, for appellant.

Donald C. Lockhart, Assistant U.S. Attorney, with whom Peter F. Neronha, United States Attorney, was on brief, for appellee.

Before Lynch, Chief Judge, Howard and Barron, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 105

LYNCH, Chief Judge.

This case involves the guilty plea of a coconspirator, Jose Alibal Santiago, in a 2010 murder in Rhode Island. This court earlier issued an en banc decision about the state's obligation to honor a federal detainer in this same murder for his codefendant, Jason Pleau. See United States v. Pleau, 680 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2012) (en banc).

On September 5, 2013, Jose Alibal Santiago pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery affecting commerce; robbery affecting commerce; and possessing, using, carrying, and discharging a gun in relation to a crime of violence with death resulting. See 18 U.S.C. § § 924, 1951(a). The government concedes that the district court erred at the change-of-plea hearing by omitting sufficient notice of the possible sentence accompanying the third charge, which involved both a consecutive sentence and a ten-year mandatory minimum. Counsel for the government also failed to provide such notice in his description of the case at that hearing. On plain error review, we find that Santiago's substantial rights were not affected by this error and affirm.

I.

On September 20, 2010, Santiago and a coconspirator, Kelley Lajoie, drove from Springfield, Massachusetts to Woonsocket, Rhode Island to accomplish a planned-out crime. There, they met their coconspirator, Jason Pleau. The three planned to rob a gas station manager, David Main, of the Woonsocket Shell Station's receipts as he went to deposit them at a nearby Citizens Bank.

Santiago, Pleau, and Lajoie first went to the Shell Station. There, Santiago spoke with the cashier, who was an acquaintance. The three saw Main and identified a car they believed belonged to him. They then split up into assigned tasks: Santiago drove his truck to an apartment complex near the Citizens Bank, Pleau waited with his gun near the bank, and Lajoie observed the gas station.

Just after 11:00 a.m., two and a half hours later, Lajoie called Pleau and told him that she saw Main leaving the gas station. Main traveled to the bank, just down the road, with the receipts. At the outside of the bank, he encountered an armed and masked Pleau, who demanded the money. Main did not comply but ran toward the bank doors. Pleau followed

Page 106

him, shooting repeatedly. Main was struck in the head and collapsed at the entrance to the bank. Pleau took the money ($12,542) and ran to Santiago, who drove them away in his waiting car. Two witnesses identified Santiago as driving the truck.

The two drove to Pleau's house in Providence, where they met Lajoie and Pleau's girlfriend and divided the money. Santiago and Lajoie made their way back to Springfield. Santiago, after attempting to evade capture for two days, ...


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