United States v. Barry, No. 19-11091 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Fifth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine. Defendant admitted to selling 122 grams, but his sentence was based on the sale of 1,023.5 grams as a result of the conversion of $14,658 to 852.2 grams in calculating the drug quantity.
The court held that the district court did not clearly err by implicitly finding that the amount of drugs seized did not reflect the scale of the offense and by inferring that the $14,658 came from the sale of 852.2 grams of meth. The court rejected defendant's claim that the inclusion of the $14,658 in the drug-quantity calculation on the ground that any drug sales connected to the cash were not relevant conduct. Rather, the court held that there is ample evidence to satisfy the factors in United States v. Rhine, 583 F.3d 878, 886 (5th Cir. 2009). In this case, although there is no direct evidence of what drugs were involved in sales earning the money, the fact that the police seized meth when it took the money is sufficient circumstantial evidence for the district court to conclude the cash resulted from meth sales as well. Furthermore, the police seized the money only two months before the first controlled buy. The court explained that the temporal proximity is a particularly strong indicator of relevance that is enough to overcome weakness in another factor.