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United States v. Hunsaker.

No. 22-7016. 4/18/2023. E.D.Okla. Judge Baldock. US Sentencing Guideline § 3B1.1(b)—Sentence Enhancement—Manager or Supervisor.

April 18, 2023

Hunsaker pleaded guilty to conspiring to traffic 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, without a plea agreement. He was one of 19 alleged co-conspirators charged in a 23-count indictment. The presentence investigation report (PSR) described Hunsaker as the “second in command” of a drug trafficking organization (DTO) and concluded that he was a “manager or supervisor” of the DTO. Hunsaker objected to the PSR’s recommended three-level enhancement of his offense level under US Sentencing Guideline (USSG) § 3B1.1(b). The district court found that Hunsaker was a “manager or supervisor” of a drug conspiracy as defined in § 3B1.1(b). It applied the enhancement and sentenced him to 168 months’ imprisonment.

On appeal, Hunsaker argued that the district court erred in finding that he was a DTO “manager or supervisor.” As relevant here, USSG § 3B1.1 allows a district court to enhance a defendant’s sentence for their aggravating role in the underlying offense if the defendant managed or supervised one or more other participants in the underlying offense. To be a manager or supervisor, a defendant must have exercised control over others involved in the crime’s commission or must have been responsible for organizing others to carry out the offense. Here, Hunsaker supplied drugs to another individual but there was no evidence that the individual worked for him and the conspiracy. Further, while Hunsaker had a close association with DTO member Cooper and gained knowledge of the DTO from her, neither their relationship alone nor the knowledge he gained about the DTO from her established the necessary authority or control over another. Additionally, Hunsaker’s actions in paying sources on behalf of Cooper, being available for sources to “check in” on Cooper, agreeing to help Cooper retaliate against another, discussing with Cooper the need to purchase more methamphetamine, informing Cooper about a possible future customer, and telling Cooper about his arrangements to purchase drugs do not establish his authority or control over DTO participants. Accordingly, the undisputed evidence does not establish by a preponderance that Hunsaker was a “manager or supervisor” subject to the enhancement to his offense level under USSG § 3B1.1(b).

The case was remanded to the district court with instructions to vacate Hunsaker’s present sentence and resentence him.

Official US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit proceedings can be found at the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit website.

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