October 27th, 2022
USA v. Ferris
Opinion Date: October 25, 2022
Judge: Carl E. Stewart
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
Defendant appealed his conviction under Section 912, claiming that the district court erred in adopting the Government’s jury instructions. Defendant also appealed his sentence, arguing that the district court erred in applying the cross-reference provision in U.S.S.G. Section 2J1.4(c)(1).
The Fifth Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction under Section 912, but vacated the district court’s application of U.S.S.G. Section 2J1.4(c)(1) and remanded for resentencing. The court held that that the jury instruction was satisfactory, but the facts do not support the application of the cross-reference provision to the drug-trafficking sentencing guidelines. The court explained that the record fully support’s Defendant’s conviction under Section 912. (1) Defendant intentionally and falsely pretended to be an FBI agent doing fieldwork in Texas; (2) he completed numerous overt acts consistent with his FBI agent impersonation; and (3) he completed the impersonation and overt acts with the “intent to deceive to act differently than he would have acted absent the deception.” Thus, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s desired jury instruction or reversibly misstate an element of his offense in its adoption of the Government’s.
However, the record fails to support the Government’s argument that Defendant attempted to traffic fentanyl. For the Government to prevail on its theory that Defendant’s false impersonation was done in the facilitation of violating Section 841(a), it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant had the requisite state of mind to be guilty of that offense.
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