United States v. Deffenbaugh, No. 11-4951 (4th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Defendant was convicted of crimes stemming from a scheme where he faked his death with the assistance of his girlfriend in order to avoid a state probation violation hearing. Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence. Although the government did not prove that defendant's girlfriend was aware and therefore intended that the U.S. Coast Guard would respond to the false distress call, it proved that she knew of and participated in the plan and that, under the plan, a false distress call would be made. With this proof and proof that the U.S. Coast Guard received the call, the government established a conspiracy to violate 14 U.S.C. 88(c), regardless of whether the conspirators knew or intended that the Coast Guard would receive the call. The court also concluded that defendant's sentence was not "plainly unreasonable," the standard applicable when, as here, no Guidelines existed for the offenses committed.