United States v. Schonewolf, No. 17-2846 (3d Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
At age 14 Schonewolf began smoking marijuana. By age 15 she left home and dropped out of school. Schonewolf developed a drinking problem and attempted suicide several times before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Schonewolf’s use of opiates began with prescription painkillers following a car accident; after her doctor’s retirement, she used heroin to satisfy her addiction. In 2010, Schonewolf was arrested with 12 pounds of methamphetamine in her car, which she was transporting for her father. Schonewolf pled guilty and was sentenced to time served, plus 60 months’ supervised release. Schonewolf began using heroin again and was caught attempting to purchase the drug, resulting in Pennsylvania misdemeanor charges and a violation of supervised release. Her probation officer withdrew the violation petition because Schonewolf was in a detox program. Schonewolf suffered an overdose and left treatment. At her revocation hearing, the government indicated that Schonewolf was again in treatment. The court sentenced Schonewolf to one day in prison, followed by her pre-existing term of supervised release. Schonewolf was later found to be selling heroin, pled guilty, and is currently serving a state sentence. Schonewolf’s probation officer filed another violation petition. The Guidelines range for Schonewolf’s sentence was 24-30 months’ imprisonment. The court sentenced Schonewolf to 40 months, consecutive to her state sentence. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the court based the sentence on Schonewolf’s need for drug rehabilitation, in violation of the Sentencing Reform Act and the Supreme Court’s 2011 "Tapia" ruling. Schonewolf’s sentence was based on past lenity. A court does not violate the Act or Tapia merely by mentioning the need for rehabilitation.