USA v. Jonathan Waltman
Per Curiam OPINION filed : The district court's judgment is AFFIRMED, decision not for publication. Damon J. Keith, Circuit Judge; Helene N. White, Circuit Judge and Jane Branstetter Stranch, Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 13a0634n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Jul 08, 2013
ON APPEAL FROM THE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT
COURT FOR THE NORTHERN
DISTRICT OF OHIO
BEFORE: KEITH, WHITE, and STRANCH, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. Jonathan Waltman appeals from the district court’s judgment entered after
his guilty plea to attempted transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
and attempted travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. As set forth below, we affirm.
Following his arrest through a child exploitation undercover operation, Waltman pleaded
guilty to a two-count indictment charging him with: (1) attempting to transport an eight-year-old girl
in foreign commerce from Canada to Michigan with the intent that such girl engage in criminal
sexual activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a) and (e), and (2) attempting to travel in interstate
commerce from Ohio to Michigan for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct with an eightyear-old girl, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(b) and (e). (R. 15, Indictment, Page ID # 36–37; R.
32, Guilty Plea, Page ID # 112). The district court calculated Waltman’s total offense level as 35
United States v. Waltman
and his criminal history category as V, resulting in a guidelines range of 262 to 327 months’
imprisonment. (Presentence Report 24; R. 42, Sentencing Tr., Page ID # 204). The court sentenced
Waltman to concurrent terms of 294 months’ imprisonment and 25 years of supervised release. (R.
35, Judgment, Page ID # 139–40).
This timely appeal followed. Waltman contends that: (1) the district court violated Federal
Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(b)(3) by entering judgment on the attempted transportation charge
in the absence of a factual basis to support his guilty plea to that charge and (2) his 294-month
sentence is procedurally and substantively unreasonable.
Waltman first argues that his guilty plea to the attempted transportation charge lacked a
factual basis as required by Rule 11(b)(3). Waltman consented to the receipt of his guilty plea by
a magistrate judge. (R. 28, Consent to Order of Referral, Page ID # 79–80). Following the plea
hearing, the magistrate judge issued a report stating in relevant part that the parties provided
“sufficient information about the charged offense(s) and the Defendant’s conduct to establish a
factual basis for the plea” and recommending that the district court accept Waltman’s guilty plea.
(R. 29, Report & Recommendation, Page ID # 81). Despite the magistrate judge’s warning that
failure to file objections might waive the right to appeal, Waltman did not object to the magistrate
judge’s report and recommendation, which the district court adopted.
(R. 29, Report &
Recommendation, Page ID # 82; R. 31, Order Accepting Plea, Page ID # 109). By failing to file
objections to the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, after being advised to do so,
Waltman waived his right to appeal the finding of a sufficient factual basis to support his guilty plea
United States v. Waltman
to the attempted transportation charge. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 155 (1985); United States
v. Walters, 638 F.2d 947, 949–50 (6th Cir. 1981).
Even if Waltman did not waive his right to appeal, the district court had a factual basis to
enter judgment on his guilty plea to the attempted transportation charge. Because Waltman did not
raise any alleged Rule 11(b)(3) violation below, we review for plain error. See United States v.
Mobley, 618 F.3d 539, 544 (6th Cir. 2010). “In reviewing whether a district court had a factual basis
for a plea, . . . we may examine the entire record, including proceedings that occurred after the plea
colloquy.” Id. at 545 (internal quotation marks omitted).
“Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a), the government must prove that the defendant:
(1) knowingly transported a minor across state lines, (2) with the intent to engage in sexual activity
with the minor, and (3) that the minor was under eighteen at the time of the offense.” United States
v. Chambers, 441 F.3d 438, 450 (6th Cir. 2006). Section 2423(e) provides that “[w]hoever attempts
or conspires to violate subsection (a), (b), (c), or (d) shall be punishable in the same manner as a
completed violation of that subsection.” 18 U.S.C. § 2423(e). “Criminal attempt requires that the
defendant intended to commit the crime and that the defendant took a substantial step towards
committing the crime, beyond mere preparation.” United States v. Evans, 699 F.3d 858, 867 (6th
The parties stipulated to the following facts set forth in the “guilty plea” statement and read
into the record during the plea hearing:
On June 15, 2010, Defendant communicated via email with an undercover ICE agent,
located in the Northern District of Ohio. The ICE agent pretended to operate a
website offering “international travel” from Cleveland, Ohio, to Canada for the
United States v. Waltman
purpose of engaging in sexually explicit conduct with minors. Defendant expressed
an interest in utilizing the services of aforementioned website, and traveling from his
home to engage in sexual conduct with a minor. Between June 15, 2010 and July 23,
2010, Defendant and the undercover ICE agent exchanged numerous emails
negotiating the terms of Defendant’s trip. Defendant indicated an inability to cross
an international border. The undercover agent agreed to transport the child from
Canada to Detroit, Michigan for the purpose of Defendant engaging in sexual
conduct with the child. The undercover ICE agent provided Defendant with a catalog
of fictitious children. Defendant selected a child purported to be an 8 year-old girl
and indicated his desire to engage in illicit sexual conduct with the child, conduct for
which he could have been charged with a criminal offense. Defendant agreed to pay
to engage in sexual activity with the 8 year-old girl. On July 16, 2010, the
undercover ICE agent received a $100.00 deposit via U.S. Mail, from Defendant. On
July 25, 2010, Defendant traveled from his home in Nashport, Ohio to North
Olmstead, Ohio, where he met an undercover ICE agent, who he thought was going
to transport him to Detroit[,] Michigan. Defendant provided the undercover agent
with $1,000.00 as the balance of his payment. Thereafter, defendant was arrested.
(R. 32, Guilty Plea, Page ID # 114–15; R. 30, Plea Tr., Page ID # 102–04).
Waltman contends that his conduct is adequately covered by his guilty plea to the travel count
under 18 U.S.C. § 2423(b), and his travel within Ohio did not constitute a substantial step toward
committing the transportation offense.
See 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a).
Waltman ignores facts
demonstrating that he took substantial steps toward transporting a fictitious minor from Canada into
the United States. See United States v. Goodwin, — F.3d —, 2013 WL 2301842, *2–3 (8th Cir. May
28, 2013). In his emails to the undercover agent, which were quoted in the presentence report and
read by the district court during the sentencing hearing, Waltman himself proposed meeting in the
United States because his prior felony conviction for a sex offense prevented him from traveling to
Canada. (Presentence Report 5–6; R. 42, Sentencing Tr., Page ID # 170–71). The undercover agent
agreed to bring the minor of Waltman’s choice from Canada to Detroit and advised him that payment
of a $100 deposit was a condition precedent to transporting the minor to the United States: “we will
United States v. Waltman
not bring down from Canada until we receive from you the deposit.” (Presentence Report 8; R. 42,
Sentencing Tr., Page ID # 175). Waltman chose an eight-year old girl from a catalog of potential
minors provided to him by the undercover agent and sent the necessary $100 deposit. By completing
these acts, Waltman took substantial steps toward completing the transportation offense. When
Waltman paid the balance of $1,000 to the undercover agent and got into the car in Ohio, Waltman
believed the minor had already been transported into the United States from Canada and was waiting
for him in Detroit. Thus, “the degree of direction and control exercised by the defendant really did
amount to more than inducement.” United States v. Jones, 909 F.2d 533, 541 (D.C. Cir. 1990);
Goodwin, 2013 WL 2301842, *2–3. Accordingly, a sufficient factual basis existed to support the
entry of judgment on Waltman’s guilty plea to the attempted transportation charge.
Waltman challenges his 294-month sentence as procedurally and substantively unreasonable.
We review the district court’s sentencing determination for procedural and substantive
reasonableness under a deferential abuse-of-discretion standard. United States v. Battaglia, 624 F.3d
348, 350 (6th Cir. 2010).
We must first ensure that “the district court committed no significant procedural error, such
as failing to calculate (or improperly calculating) the Guidelines range, treating the Guidelines as
mandatory, failing to consider the § 3553(a) factors, selecting a sentence based on clearly erroneous
facts, or failing to adequately explain the chosen sentence.” Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 51
(2007). Although Waltman did not raise some of his procedural arguments below, we are not limited
to plain-error review because the district court’s question at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing
— “Anything further?” — did not satisfy the rule established in United States v. Bostic, 371 F.3d
United States v. Waltman
865, 872–73 (6th Cir. 2004). See United States v. Thomas, 498 F.3d 336, 340 (6th Cir. 2007). (R.
42, Sentencing Tr., Page ID # 210). We therefore review the district court’s factual findings for clear
error and its legal interpretations of the guidelines de novo. See United States v. Freeman, 640 F.3d
180, 186 (6th Cir. 2011).
Waltman first argues that the district court erred in applying a base offense level of 28 under
USSG § 2G1.3(a)(3) because his guilty plea to the attempted transportation charge lacked a sufficient
factual basis. As discussed above, the district court had a factual basis to support the attempted
transportation charge and therefore properly started the sentence calculation with a base offense level
Waltman next contends that the district court erred in declining to apply a 3-level reduction
for attempt under USSG § 2X1.1(b)(1), which provides:
If an attempt, decrease by 3 levels, unless the defendant completed all the acts the
defendant believed necessary for successful completion of the substantive offense or
the circumstances demonstrate that the defendant was about to complete all such acts
but for apprehension or interruption by some similar event beyond the defendant’s
USSG § 2X1.1(b)(1). According to Waltman, there was no factual basis for finding that he
completed all the acts which he believed necessary for transporting a minor across the Canadian
border or was about to complete the necessary acts but for his arrest in Ohio. Waltman’s payment
of the $100 deposit to ensure the minor’s transportation from Canada to the United States
demonstrates that he completed all the acts he believed necessary for successful completion of the
minor’s transportation. (Presentence Report 8; R. 42, Sentencing Tr., Page ID # 175). In addition,
Waltman committed the acts he thought necessary for completion of the travel offense by entering
United States v. Waltman
the agent’s vehicle with the expectation that the agent would take him to Detroit. The district court
did not err in declining to apply the 3-level reduction for attempt.
Waltman argues that the district court erred in applying an 8-level increase for an offense
involving “a minor who had not attained the age of 12 years,” pursuant to USSG § 2G1.3(b)(5).
According to Waltman, this enhancement is limited to crimes involving an actual victim. The
commentary to USSG § 2G1.3 specifically defines “minor” as including “an individual, whether
fictitious or not, who a law enforcement officer represented to a participant (i) had not attained the
age of 18 years, and (ii) could be provided for the purposes of engaging in sexually explicit conduct.”
USSG § 2G1.3, comment. (n.1) (emphasis added). Waltman’s argument is without merit.
Waltman also contends that the district court erred in classifying him as a repeat and
dangerous sex offender against minors pursuant to USSG § 4B1.5, which resulted in an overstated
criminal history category. USSG § 4B1.5 provides for a criminal history category of V if the instant
offense of conviction is “a covered sex crime” and the defendant has a prior “sex offense
conviction.” USSG § 4B1.5(a). Waltman does not dispute that his instant offenses qualify as
covered sex crimes, but argues that his prior Ohio conviction for attempted gross sexual imposition
does not constitute a sex offense conviction. The commentary to USSG § 4B1.5 defines “sex
offense conviction” in part as “any offense described in 18 U.S.C. § 2426(b)(1)(A) or (B).” USSG
§ 4B1.5, comment. (n.3(A)(ii)(I)). Under 18 U.S.C. § 2426(b)(1)(B), a “prior sex offense
conviction” includes an offense under state law “consisting of conduct that would have been an
offense under [chapter 109A] if the conduct had occurred within the special maritime and territorial
jurisdiction of the United States.” This court has previously held that abusive sexual contact
United States v. Waltman
involving a child under 12 is the federal equivalent to gross sexual imposition under Ohio law.
United States v. Dattilio, 442 F. App’x 187, 191 (6th Cir.) (citing the nearly identical definitions of
“sexual contact” under federal and Ohio law), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 785 (2011). According to
Waltman, his prior Ohio conviction for attempted gross sexual imposition does not constitute a sex
offense conviction because the definition of “sex offense conviction” does not specify attempts.
That definition, however, incorporates the offenses under chapter 109A, which include attempts.
See 18 U.S.C. §§ 2243(a), 2244(a)(3). The district court properly classified Waltman as a repeat and
dangerous sex offender against minors.
As his final procedural argument, Waltman asserts that the district court failed to
meaningfully consider his arguments for a downward variance based on his age of 24 years old at
the time of the offense and the need to avoid an unwarranted sentencing disparity where his case did
not involve a real minor or actual sexual abuse. The district court stated that it was considering
Waltman’s history and characteristics and noted that “the conduct goes back quite a long way,”
implicitly rejecting his relative youth argument. (R. 42, Sentencing Tr., Page ID # 201–02). See
United States v. Chiolo, 643 F.3d 177, 183–84 (6th Cir. 2011). While the district court should
consider “the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records
who have been found guilty of similar conduct,” 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(6) (emphasis added), Waltman
merely cited sentencing statistics for federal offenders convicted of sexual abuse offenses, without
accounting for the particular circumstances of his case. Moreover, we have held that avoiding
unwarranted sentence disparities is an “unconventional ground for challenging a within-guidelines
sentence,” such as Waltman’s 294-month sentence. United States v. Swafford, 639 F.3d 265, 270
United States v. Waltman
(6th Cir.), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 320 (2011) (“The point of the guidelines is to decrease sentencing
disparities, an objective furthered by a within-guidelines sentence, as opposed to a sentence that
varies above or below the advisory guidelines range.”). The record reflects that the district court
conducted “a meaningful sentencing hearing,” considered Waltman’s arguments, and “fulfilled its
procedural duties.” United States v. Gunter, 620 F.3d 642, 646–47 (6th Cir. 2010); see Rita v.
United States, 551 U.S. 338, 356 (2007).
A procedurally reasonable sentence “may be substantively unreasonable if the district court
chooses the sentence arbitrarily, grounds the sentence on impermissible factors, or unreasonably
weighs a pertinent factor.” United States v. Brooks, 628 F.3d 791, 796 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 131
S. Ct. 3077 (2011). We afford Waltman’s within-guidelines sentence a rebuttable presumption of
substantive reasonableness. Id. Waltman argues that his sentence is substantively unreasonable
because the district court failed to consider pertinent factors such as his relative youth, the
undercover agent’s improper investigative techniques, and the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing
disparities. For the reasons discussed above, Waltman’s arguments regarding his relative youth and
unwarranted sentencing disparities lack merit. Waltman contends that the undercover agent should
have ended negotiations when Waltman informed the agent that his prior felony conviction
prevented him from traveling to Canada. Waltman, not the agent, proposed meeting in the United
States. (Presentence Report 5–6; R. 42, Sentencing Tr., Page ID # 170–71). Waltman has failed to
rebut the presumption that his within-guidelines sentence is substantively reasonable.
For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the district court’s judgment.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?