US v. Gregory Gouldman
UNPUBLISHED PER CURIAM OPINION filed. Originating case number: 5:15-cr-00232-D-1 Copies to all parties and the district court/agency. .. [17-4085]
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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Plaintiff - Appellee,
GREGORY DUSTIN GOULDMAN,
Defendant - Appellant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at
Raleigh. James C. Dever III, Chief District Judge. (5:15-cr-00232-D-1)
Submitted: September 29, 2017
Decided: October 18, 2017
Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, and SHEDD and WYNN, Circuit Judges.
Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion.
Mitchell G. Styers, BANZET, THOMPSON, STYERS & MAY, PLLC, Warrenton,
North Carolina, for Appellant. John Stuart Bruce, United States Attorney, Jennifer P.
May-Parker, First Assistant United States Attorney, Phillip A. Rubin, Assistant United
States Attorney, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.
Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit.
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Gregory Dustin Gouldman appeals his 60-month sentence imposed following a
guilty plea to one count of extortion under color of official right in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1951 (2012). On appeal, he challenges the reasonableness of the district court’s upward
departure. We affirm.
This court reviews a sentence for reasonableness, applying “a deferential
abuse-of-discretion standard.” Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 51 (2007). “When
reviewing a departure, [this court] consider[s] whether the sentencing court acted
reasonably both with respect to its decision to impose such a sentence and with respect to
the extent of the divergence from the sentencing range.” United States v. Howard, 773
F.3d 519, 529 (4th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Reasonableness has both procedural and substantive components. Gall, 552 U.S.
In assessing procedural reasonableness, this court considers factors such as
whether the district court properly calculated the Sentencing Guidelines range,
considered the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) (2012) factors, and sufficiently explained the
sentence imposed. Id. “Where the defendant or prosecutor presents nonfrivolous reasons
for imposing a different sentence than that set forth in the advisory Guidelines, a district
judge should address the party’s arguments and explain why he has rejected” them.
United States v. Carter, 564 F.3d 325, 330 (4th Cir. 2009) (internal quotation marks
omitted). If no significant procedural errors exist, this court considers the substantive
reasonableness of a sentence, evaluating “the totality of the circumstances.” Gall, 552
U.S. at 51.
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Gouldman asserts that the district court erred procedurally by failing to adequately
explain its reasons for departing to a sentencing range of 51 to 63 months. We find no
The court departed upward based on U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual
§§ 5K2.0(a)(1)(A), 5K2.0(a)(2)(B) (2015), due to aggravating and unidentified
circumstances in this case, namely danger to the public due to corruption, that were fully
discussed at sentencing. The court also found the departure appropriate under USSG
§ 2C1.1, Application Note 7. The court specifically rejected Gouldman’s contention that
the Guideline for federal contraband offenses would be appropriate in this case. Further,
the court concluded that the departure in this case should be greater than the five-level
departure in United States v. Bellamy, 264 F.3d 448 (4th Cir. 2001), as the circumstances
in the instant case were more egregious and merited a seven-level departure. The court
also cited and expressly considered the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors. Gouldman further
asserts that the sentence is substantively unreasonable because it is greater than necessary
to achieve the aims of § 3553(a) and the calculated total offense level sufficiently
accounted for the seriousness of the offense.
We find that the totality of the
circumstances support the 60-month sentence, as amply explained by the district court.
Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s judgment. We dispense with oral
argument because the facts and legal contentions are adequately presented in the
materials before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.
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