FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE [Hon. Landya B. McCafferty, U.S. District Judge]
Claudia Leis Bolgen and Bolgen & Bolgen on brief for
Gray Rice, United States Attorney, and Seth R. Aframe,
Assistant United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.
Lynch, Selya and Kayatta, Circuit Judges.
Kevin Joseph Fields stole more than $30, 000 worth of postage
stamps by passing bad checks at various post offices. This
stamp-stealing scheme proved ill-conceived and, following his
conviction, the appellant was sentenced to a 30-month term of
immurement. He now appeals his upwardly variant sentence.
Discerning no error, we affirm.
this appeal follows a guilty plea, "we glean the
relevant facts from the change-of-plea colloquy, the
unchallenged portions of the presentence investigation report
(PSI Report), and the record of the disposition
hearing." United States v. Vargas, 560 F.3d 45,
47 (1st Cir. 2009).
of 2014, the United States Postal Inspection Service began
investigating reports that an individual was using bad checks
to purchase stamps at a number of post offices in New
Hampshire and Maine. A copy of one of the checks, written on
an account at the Kennebunk Savings Bank, displayed the name
and address of the appellant. The inspectors requested
information about this account from the bank. It supplied the
requested information and also disclosed that it had
contacted the local sheriff's department about the
account. That contact was inspired when - a few weeks earlier
- the appellant made two deposits into the account using
counterfeit checks (each in an amount in excess of $3000).
to the chase, postal inspectors located the appellant in
Dover, New Hampshire. They advised him of his
Miranda rights, see Miranda v. Arizona, 384
U.S. 436, 478-79 (1966), which he waived. The appellant
admitted to opening the checking account and using checks
furnished by the bank to purchase stamps despite his
knowledge that the account did not contain sufficient funds.
He estimated that he had purchased nearly $27, 000 worth of
stamps using bad checks, explained that "[m]oney drives
me, " and related that he had taken the stamps to pawn
shops and exchanged them either for cash or for merchandise.
He added that he had created fake checks on his computer
(though he had not purchased stamps with those home-made
a review of post office and bank records, inspectors
concluded that, during the period from June 9 through June
17, 2014, the appellant had obtained more than $30, 000 worth
of stamps by passing bad checks at post offices in New
Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. In due course, a federal
grand jury sitting in the District of New Hampshire returned
an indictment charging the appellant with possessing stolen
government property (the stamps) with intent to convert that
property. See 18 U.S.C. § 641. A summons and,
later, an arrest warrant were issued but never served.
fast-forward to May of 2015, at which time the appellant
wound up in state custody for an unrelated parole violation.
He was brought before a federal magistrate pursuant to a writ
of habeas corpus ad prosequendum and subsequently entered a
guilty plea to the charge of possession of stolen government
property with intent to convert. The district court allowed a
change of counsel at the appellant's request and, some
months later, held a sentencing hearing.
probation department submitted the PSI Report, which
recommended a base offense level of six, see USSG
§2B1.1(a)(2); a four-level enhancement premised on the
amount of loss, see id. §2B1.1(b)(1)(C); and a
two-level enhancement on the basis that the offense of
conviction involved the possession or use of device-making
equipment, see id. §2B1.1(b)(11)(A)(i). After
subtracting two levels for acceptance of responsibility,
see id. §3E1.1(a), the PSI Report recommended a
total offense level of ten. The appellant's past
convictions - including convictions for identity fraud,
forgery, larceny, and the fraudulent use of credit cards -
produced a criminal history score of 30, which the PSI Report
augmented by two points because the appellant had committed
the offense of conviction while on parole for unrelated state
charges. See id. §4A1.1(d). These computations
placed the appellant squarely in criminal history category
sentencing, the district court adopted most of the guideline
calculations limned in the PSI Report. The appellant
objected, however, to the two-level enhancement for his
alleged possession or use of device-making equipment. Though
he had manufactured counterfeit checks, he had not employed
them in his stamp-stealing scheme. The district court
sustained this objection and reduced the appellant's
total offense level accordingly. This adjustment in the
appellant's offense level, coupled with his placement in
criminal history category VI, yielded a guideline sentencing
range of 18 to 24 months (as opposed to the 24- to 30-month
range suggested in the PSI Report).
court proceeded to impose an above-the-range sentence of 30
months' imprisonment. In pronouncing sentence, the court
emphasized the appellant's extensive criminal history and
fretted that the appellant would not be deterred from future
criminal conduct because earlier prison terms had failed to
ameliorate his behavior. Thus, a relatively stiff sentence
was needed to protect the public and to promote general
deterrence. This timely appeal ensued.
general matter, we review the imposition of a sentence for
abuse of discretion. See Gall v. United States, 552
U.S. 38, 51 (2007); United States v. Martin, 520
F.3d 87, 92 (1st Cir. 2008). Within this rubric, though, some
specific parameters pertain. "[S]entencing claims are
addressed under a two-step pavane. First, we address those
claims that affect the procedural integrity of the sentence.
Second, we address any residual question as to the
substantive reasonableness of the sentence." United
States v. Rodríguez-Adorno, 852 F.3d 168, 175
(1st Cir. 2017) (citations omitted). Our review "is
characterized by a ...