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United States v. Rebolledo-Delgadillo

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

April 28, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Roberto Rebolledo-Delgadillo, Defendant-Appellant.

Argued April 6, 2016.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 13-cr-00673 — John J. Tharp, Jr., Judge.

Before Flaum, Ripple, and Hamilton, Circuit Judges.

Flaum, Circuit Judge.

Defendant Roberto Rebolledo-Delgadillo ("Rebolledo") appeals his conviction of possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine under 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Rebolledo, who attempted to broker a large cocaine deal, argues that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction. He also contends that he is entitled to a new trial because the government presented false testimony and misled the jury during closing arguments, as well as a new sentencing because the district court improperly denied safety valve relief. We affirm his conviction and his sentence.

I. Background[1]

In early August 2013, Rebolledo contacted a man he thought was a potential cocaine buyer, but who turned out to be a confidential informant employed by the Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") (we refer to him as the "CI"). When Rebolledo suggested a drug sale, the CI contacted the DEA.

Rebolledo and the CI planned the transaction during three meetings that took place at the CI's horse ranch in south Chicago. Rebolledo offered to connect the CI with a drug supplier and the CI agreed to purchase over $200, 000 of cocaine. The parties arranged for the transaction to take place at the CI's ranch on August 16, 2013.

On that day, the drug supplier, Juan Ramirez-Gutierrez ("Ramirez"), dropped Rebolledo off at the ranch. Ramirez then left to pick up the drugs and Rebolledo and the CI waited behind. The CI wore a recording device with a three-hour recording capacity, but for unknown reasons, the device only recorded the first hour of the meeting. The recording device had likewise failed during other pre-deal meetings between the CI and Rebolledo.

Ramirez returned to the ranch with co-defendant Mario Orozco-Aceves ("Orozco"). Rebolledo approached the car and Ramirez told Rebolledo that Orozco was the person who would "deliver the work to [Rebolledo]." Ramirez and Orozco then left to pick up the drugs. Shortly thereafter, Orozco returned by himself. It is unclear from the record whether Rebolledo let Orozco onto the property and told him where to park, or whether Orozco entered the property without any instruction from Rebolledo.[2]

After Orozco parked his car, he took a duffle bag containing cocaine out of the trunk and brought it into a small bathroom at the ranch. According to Orozco, Rebolledo followed him into the bathroom and asked Orozco to leave the drugs in a specific location on the bathroom floor. Orozco complied. The CI, who was standing in the doorway of the bathroom, gave a similar account of the events. However, the CI did not indicate whether Rebolledo directed Orozco to put the drugs on the floor, or whether Orozco did so of his own volition.

Orozco then opened the bag to show the CI that it contained cocaine. After seeing the drugs, the CI left Rebolledo and Orozco alone in the bathroom for about two minutes. Orozco testified that he asked Rebolledo "where he wanted the drugs because I was not going to leave them in my duffle bag because I told him that that bag was my personal bag." Rebolledo responded that he would ask the CI where to put the drugs, and Rebolledo and Orozco exited the bathroom together. Minutes later, police officers arrested Rebolledo and Orozco. The officers found six kilograms of cocaine in the bag in the bathroom. Rebolledo did not touch the bag or the drugs at any point.

On September 12, 2013, a grand jury indicted Rebolledo for possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). During the three-day trial, the government introduced testimony from the CI; Orozco (who was also charged in the indictment); the DEA case agent, Special Agent David Brazao; and another DEA agent. On July 23, 2014, the jury returned a guilty verdict.

Before sentencing, Rebolledo requested and participated in a proffer with the government for purposes of obtaining safety valve relief. On May 20, 2015, the district court held a sentencing hearing in which it denied safety valve relief and sentenced Rebolledo to 120 months in prison, the mandatory minimum sentence. The ...

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