from the United States District Court for the Northern
District of Texas
JOLLY and ELROD, Circuit Judges, and RODRIGUEZ, [*] District Judge.
RODRIGUEZ, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Shanda Renee Hawkins pled guilty to conspiracy with intent to
distribute a controlled substance, and received a four-point
organizer or leader enhancement and a two-point criminal
livelihood enhancement, among others. She challenges these
two enhancements on appeal, along with the substantive
reasonableness of her sentence. For the following reasons,
the judgment below is AFFIRMED.
pled guilty to conspiracy with intent to distribute a
controlled substance (methamphetamine) in violation of 21
U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B). The
probation office prepared a presentence report (PSR),
indicating that Hawkins was accountable for 770, 061.9
kilograms of marihuana equivalent, which resulted in a base
offense level of 38. Through a number of enhancements and
reductions, the probation office assessed a total offense
level of 49, which was reduced to 43, the maximum Guideline
offense level. For present purposes, Hawkins received two
relevant sentencing enhancements. First, she received a
four-level enhancement for being an organizer or leader of
the conspiracy. See U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1. Second,
she received a two-level enhancement for committing the
offense as part of a pattern of criminal conduct engaged in
as a livelihood. See U.S.S.G. §
2D1.1(b)(15)(E). Given her total offense level and Criminal
History Category II, the Guidelines recommended life
imprisonment, which was reduced to 480 months to reflect the
statutorily authorized maximum sentence.
objected to the PSR, challenging the two relevant
enhancements. Hawkins argued that she was not an organizer or
leader of the conspiracy, as her involvement in it was based
mostly on her romantic involvement with several
co-conspirators. Hawkins also argued that there was
insufficient evidence to show that she engaged in the offense
as part of a pattern of criminal conduct engaged in as a
district court overruled the objections, adopted the
PSR's findings of fact (subject to certain changes in an
Addendum), and granted the Government's motion for a
downward departure. The district court sentenced Hawkins to
240 months of imprisonment to be followed by 4 years of
supervised release. Hawkins objected to the reasonableness of
her sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and filed a
timely notice of appeal.
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3742(a)
as a defendant's appeal of a final sentence. On this
appeal, Hawkins challenges the district court's
application of two sentencing enhancements, along with the
substantive reasonableness of her sentence.
Challenges to the Application of Sentencing
Standard of Review
as here, an argument is preserved in the district court, this
Court reviews "the application of the Guidelines de
novo and the district court's factual findings-along
with the reasonable inferences drawn from those facts-for
clear error." United States v. Gomez-Valle, 828
F.3d 324, 327 (5th Cir. 2016) (internal quotations omitted).
A district court's factual findings are not clearly
erroneous so long as they are plausible in light of the
record read as a whole. United States v. Alaniz, 726
F.3d 586, 622 (5th Cir. 2013).
making factual findings at the sentencing stage, a district
court may consider any information that "bears
sufficient indicia of reliability to support its probable
accuracy." United States v. Zuniga, 720 F.3d
587, 590-91 (5th Cir. 2013) (internal quotations omitted).
"[A] [PSR] generally bears sufficient indicia of
reliability to be considered as evidence by the sentencing
judge in making factual determinations required by the
sentencing guidelines." United States v.
Trujillo, 502 F.3d 353, 357 (5th Cir. 2007) (internal
quotations omitted). As a result, a district court may adopt
facts contained in a PSR without further inquiry, assuming
those facts have an adequate evidentiary basis that itself is
sufficiently reliable and the defendant does not present
evidence to the contrary. United States v. Harris,
702 F.3d 226, 230 (5th Cir. 2012). Where a defendant wishes
to challenge sufficiently reliable facts contained in a PSR,
the defendant carries the burden of presenting rebuttal
evidence showing that those facts are materially untrue,
inaccurate, or unreliable. Id. Objections,
unsupported by fact, generally do not carry this ...