FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO [Hon. Juan M. Pérez-Giménez, U.S.
Alexander Vos, Federal Public Defender, District of Puerto
Rico, Vivianne M. Marrero, Assistant Federal Public Defender,
Supervisor, Appeals Section, and Ivan Santos-Castaldo,
Research and Writing Specialist, on brief for appellant.
Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney,
Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States
Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, and Julia M. Meconiates,
Assistant United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.
Howard, Chief Judge Boudin and Lynch, Circuit Judges.
Boudin, Circuit Judge.
pled guilty in federal district court in Puerto Rico in 2001
to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C.
§ 846, and was sentenced to 168 months in prison
followed by five years of supervised release. After serving
more than eleven years in prison, Vázquez began
supervised release on December 28, 2012.
period of supervised release--accompanied by the common
requirements that he refrain from unlawfully using controlled
substances, report any changes in address, and regularly
check in with his probation officer--passed without known
incident until nearly the end. But in 2017, the probation
officer reported several violations, including three positive
drug tests for marijuana and a failure to inform his
probation officer that he was living at a new location.
was also arrested on July 25, 2017, after his girlfriend
called the police to report a domestic dispute. Police also
questioned him about a domestic-violence incident on August
30, 2017. Neither incident resulted in criminal charges but a
restraining order was placed against him after the second
incident, pending a later hearing. Vázquez also failed
to timely report the incidents to his probation officer as
required by his supervised release conditions.
missed a scheduled drug-treatment program and a
drug-screening appointment. In each instance Vázquez
claimed he was at the hospital, first to attend to a wrist
injury and later because his girlfriend was experiencing
complications with her pregnancy; in at least one case the
hospital records showed that his time there did not conflict
with his scheduled treatment appointment.
the government filed a motion to revoke Vázquez's
supervised release. Vázquez admitted that he had
violated the terms of his supervised release and declined an
evidentiary hearing. The parties jointly recommended a
sentence of time served (forty-two days) with six months of
supervised release, including three months of home detention
with electronic monitoring.
applicable guidelines range was three to nine months,
U.S.S.G. § 7B1.4(a), and the statutory maximum for a
revocation of supervised release arising out of a conviction
for a Class A felony--here, Vázquez's original
conviction for conspiracy to distribute cocaine--was five
years, 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3).
district judge imposed an upward variance, sentencing
Vázquez to two years' imprisonment plus two years
of supervised release. The district court described the
various violations, set forth above, and concluded:
Based on the nature and circumstances of the violations and
characteristics of Mr. Vazquez, the Court will impose a
sentence that reflects the seriousness of the violations,
promote respect for the law and compliance with the
Court's orders, provide just punishment, adequate
deterrence, and protect our community from further
non-compliance behavior by Mr. Vazquez-Mendez. This may
assist Mr. Vazquez-Mendez to work on his rehabilitation
process and his reintegration into the community. Mr. Vazquez
will be placed in a controlled environment where he will have
the space to think, reflect and establish new goals for
himself, to continue working on his rehabilitation plan once
he is released from prison.
spot Vázquez's counsel objected to the sentence as
substantively unreasonable and further objected to the
judge's mention of rehabilitation, arguing that
lengthening a criminal sentence to promote rehabilitation was
impermissible. The court rejected the objection, adding that
"two times he was very aggressive with his ...