United States v. Catrell, No. 14-3044 (10th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
In late 2011, the Government filed an information against defendant Ronald Catrell, charging him with various fraud-related crimes. The information was filed with the understanding that Defendant would plead guilty. Defendant, however, fled the jurisdiction after posting bond and was only returned to Kansas after authorities arrested him in South Carolina in July 2012. He then entered a different, binding plea agreement with the Government under Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Per this agreement, Defendant would receive 120 months in prison for bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft. Defendant thereafter pled guilty to these four felony counts. Before sentencing, however, and after a lengthy hearing, the district court allowed Defendant to withdraw this guilty plea. The Government then procured an indictment against Defendant with over a dozen new criminal counts. Within weeks, Defendant entered into a new Rule 11(c)(1)(C) agreement with the Government. This time, Defendant plead guilty to the same four crimes as before and receive 132 months in prison. Later, at sentencing, Defendant opined in allocution that the new indictment was “punishment for withdrawing the [earlier guilty] plea” and that “I feel like there’s no choice but to accept” the new plea agreement. Upon questioning, however, he again reiterated that he nevertheless willingly entered the agreement and willingly pled guilty, fully aware that his sentence would be 132 months. Defendant appealed the sentence to the Tenth Circuit, arguing: (1) a portion of the sentence illegally exceeded a statutory maximum; and (2) the Government vindictively insisted on a plea agreement recommending 132 months in prison. Per precedent, the Tenth Circuit concluded after review that the district court gave Defendant an “illegal sentence” for aggravated identity theft. The case was therefore remanded for this plain error to be corrected.