United States v. Andrew Sarchett (8th Cir. July 2021)

The Federal Docket

July 14, 2021

Drug Offenses/Drug Quantity – Drugs found in the defendant’s girlfriend’s car were improperly included in the defendant’s total drug quantity where the judge added the quantity based solely on a stipulation in the plea agreement that the girlfriend had made certain statements about the drugs, but the stipulation did not establish that her statements were true.

Andrew Sarchett pled guilty to distributing methamphetamine as a convicted drug felon under 21 U.S.C §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C) and was sentenced to 176 months imprisonment. On appeal, Sarchett claimed that the District Court made a procedural error in connecting him to additional drugs that were found in his girlfriend’s car, a connection which doubled his base offense level under the Sentencing Guidelines.

Reviewing the factual finding of the drug quantity for clear error, the Eighth Circuit reversed the District Court’s decision and remanded for resentencing. In his objections to the PSR, Sarchett properly contested the Government’s calculation of the drug quantity, and the Government failed to put up any evidence outside of the plea agreement to support its contentions. Sarchett stipulated in his plea to the fact that his girlfriend made certain allegations, but not that the allegations were true. This and other ambiguities in the plea agreement should have been construed against the Government.

Appeal from the Northern District of Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division
Opinion by Arnold, joined by Benton and Stras

Click here to read the opinion

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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