United States v. Holton, No. 17-1406 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Holton pleaded guilty to robbing an Illinois grocery store, carrying and using a firearm, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A); a jury found him guilty of conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robbery (robbery affecting interstate commerce), 18 U.S.C. 1951. He was acquitted of robbing two other stores. In sentencing Holton on the conspiracy count, the judge imposed a prison term roughly four years above the Guidelines sentence. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court has held that a judge may consider evidence of conduct that is relevant to the offense of conviction, even if that conduct is uncharged, “so long as that conduct has been proved by a preponderance of the evidence.” The judge stated that she was not considering acquitted conduct, but that the conspiracy began with “robbing drug dealers” (uncharged) and evolved into robbing other businesses, so that the drug-dealer robberies were “connected in a substantial way to the conspiracy charge and conviction,” and were “significantly relevant ... uncharged conduct which I have authority to consider.” Although the judge did not state explicitly that Holton more likely than not robbed drug dealers, she said enough to show that she reached this conclusion and therefore did not err.