United States v. Goliday, No. 21-1326 (7th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Officers executed a search warrant at Goliday’s Indianapolis home, recovering drugs and a loaded handgun. Goliday arrived during the search, waived his Miranda rights, and admitted that the drugs and gun were his. Goliday stated that he had bought two ounces of heroin every week for the last year from the same supplier, then resold smaller amounts. He pled guilty to three counts of possession with intent to distribute drugs—one count each for fentanyl, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), and, based on his statement, to conspiring to distribute more than 1,000 grams of heroin. Without the conspiracy charge, he would have faced a statutory minimum sentence of 10 years; the conspiracy charge, enhanced by Goliday’s prior conviction, carried a statutory minimum of 15 years.
At sentencing, when the court asked Goliday if the facts relating to the conspiracy charge were accurate, Goliday indicated that his statement about how much he purchased was only intended to implicate his supplier. However, he subsequently agreed to the judge's recitation of the charge.
The Seventh Circuit vacated his 15-year sentence. Goliday’s statements suggested he did not understand how a conspiracy offense differed from just buying and selling drugs. The district court did not resolve the confusion and should have ensured that Goliday understood the nature of the charged conspiracy offense and that there was a factual basis for the plea.