FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF
PUERTO RICO [Hon. Juan M. Pérez-Giménez, U.S.
Virginia G. Villa on brief for appellant.
Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney,
Mariana E. Bauzá-Almonte, Assistant United States
Attorney, Chief, Appellate Division, and Thomas F. Klumper,
Assistant United States Attorney, Senior Appellate Counsel,
on brief for appellee.
Howard, Chief Judge, Selya and Barron, Circuit Judges.
Rubén Rodríguez-Adorno, represented by
newly-appointed counsel, attempts to reinvent his case on
appeal. His appellate briefing is long on rhetoric and short
on facts, and none of the issues that he advances was raised
below. Discerning no plain error, we affirm the challenged
conviction and sentence.
briefly rehearse the background and travel of the case,
drawing the facts from the change-of-plea colloquy, the
uncontested portions of the presentence investigation report
(PSI Report), and the sentencing transcript. See United
Dávila-González, 595 F.3d 42, 45 (1st
Cir. 2010); United States v.
Dietz, 950 F.2d 50, 51 (1st Cir. 1991).
about eight years, beginning around 2002, the appellant
participated in a drug-trafficking conspiracy run out of a
public housing project in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The drug
ring dealt in a cornucopia of controlled substances,
including crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, marijuana,
and assorted prescription medications. The appellant
functioned mostly as a retail seller, peddling drugs
throughout the project and its environs. At other times, he
served as a lookout, standing watch while his confederates
of 2010, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment
charging 70 persons (including the appellant) with a laundry
list of offenses. As relevant here, count one charged the
appellant and others with conspiring to possess with intent
to distribute a panoply of controlled substances within a
protected location. See 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), 846, 860. Other counts charged the appellant with
aiding and abetting the distribution of heroin, cocaine, and
marijuana within 1, 000 feet of a public housing project and
with conspiring to possess a firearm and ammunition during
and in relation to the commission of drug-trafficking crimes.
appellant was not arrested until June of 2014. Roughly four
months later, he entered into a written plea agreement (the
Agreement), agreeing to plead guilty to count one. As part of
the bargain, the government agreed to dismiss the other
charges against him.
Agreement, the parties stipulated that the appellant
possessed at least 500 grams, but less than 2, 000 grams, of
cocaine, notwithstanding that the drug ring was alleged to
have distributed "multiple kilograms" of several
different kinds of drugs. As a result, the appellant faced a
statutory maximum sentence of eighty years in prison.
See 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(B), 860(a).
Agreement included a number of provisions bearing upon the
appellant's prospective sentence (acknowledging, though,
that the sentencing court was neither bound nor constrained
by any of these provisions). Of particular pertinence for
present purposes, the parties suggested a total offense level
of 25, but they did not stipulate to any criminal history
category (CHC). Instead, they agreed that if the
appellant's CHC proved to be I or II, he could argue for
a sentence as low as sixty months and the government could
argue for a sentence as high as seventy months. If, however,
the appellant's CHC equaled or exceeded III, both parties
would recommend a sentence at the low end of whatever
guideline sentencing range (GSR) resulted. Regardless of what
his CHC turned out to be, the appellant promised not to ask
for a sentence of less than sixty months.
change-of-plea hearing, the court began by offering to read
the charges. The appellant declined the offer, indicating
that he knew the nature of the charges against him. The court
nonetheless proceeded to describe the relevant charges in
detail and also described the manner and means by which the
appellant and his coconspirators had allegedly carried out
their illicit activities. The appellant acknowledged that he
had acted in the manner that the court portrayed and
confirmed that he wished to plead guilty to the conspiracy
court reminded the appellant that it was not bound by the
Agreement but, rather, was obliged to make its own guideline
calculations and could impose "any sentence provided by
the law." The appellant confirmed that he understood the
court's position. In due course, the court accepted the
appellant's guilty plea and ordered the preparation of
the PSI Report.
the final version of the PSI Report emerged, it identified
four clusters of convictions aggregating to more than ten
individual convictions, two of which the probation officer
thought sufficient to serve as predicates for a career
offender enhancement under the sentencing guidelines. With
this in mind, the report recommended that the court set the