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Philadelphia, PA - Criminal defense lawyer represented defendant with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and five kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride charges.
Pursuant to a plea agreement, Maldonado pled guilty to a felony information
charging him with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one
kilogram or more of heroin and five kilograms or more of cocaine hydrochloride in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and conspiracy to commit money laundering in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). The District Court sentenced him to 151 months in prison.
Counsel for Maldonado has filed a motion to withdraw as well as a brief under
Anders explaining that there are no nonfrivolous issues to appeal.1
An Anders brief and
motion trigger a two-step inquiry. First, we consider whether defense counsel has
established that he or she “has thoroughly examined the record in search of appealable
issues” and “explain[ed] why the issues are frivolous.” United States v. Youla, 241 F.3d
296, 300 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing United States v. Marvin, 211 F.3d 778, 780 (3d Cir.
2000)). If we are satisfied with the attorney’s brief, we then undertake an independent
The District Court clearly had subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
3231. See also, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 3237(a) (stating that offense may be prosecuted where it
was begun, continued, or completed). We possess appellate jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C.
§ 3742 and 28 U.S.C. § 1291. This Court exercises plenary review to determine whether
there are any nonfrivolous issues. See, e.g., Simon v. Gov’t of the Virgin Islands, 679
F.3d 109, 114 (3d Cir. 2012).
review of the record to determine whether there are any nonfrivolous issues. Id. A copy
of the defense counsel’s brief was furnished to Maldonado, and he was given an
opportunity to file a pro se brief. No such pro se brief was filed.
We conclude that defense counsel has satisfied his Anders obligations and agree
that this proceeding does not implicate any nonfrivolous issues. He thoroughly explains
how the District Court complied with the guilty plea framework set forth in Federal Rule
of Criminal Procedure 11, as well as the procedural and substantive requirements for
Maldonado’s guilty plea was knowing and voluntary. See, e.g., United States v.
Lessner, 498 F.3d 185, 192-93 (3d Cir. 2007). The District Court placed Maldonado
under oath (cautioning him he could be prosecuted for perjury if he provided false
answers) and questioned him to ensure that he was competent to proceed with a guilty
plea. The District Court further confirmed that Maldonado’s plea was voluntary, he was
satisfied with counsel’s representation, and he understood the charges against him. It
also made sure that the defendant understood his constitutional rights (including the
rights he was giving up by entering the guilty plea) as well as the terms of the plea
agreement. After the government had set forth the facts it would have presented at trial
(to which Maldonado agreed subject to a clarification based on the plea agreement), the
District Court accepted the guilty plea.
The sentence imposed did not exceed the maximum possible sentence for either of
the offenses charged. The District Court properly calculated the Guidelines range,
appropriately ruled on the departure motion (granting a greater downward departure than
the one requested by the government itself), and imposed a reasonable sentence (at the
bottom of the Guidelines range) based on a meaningful consideration of the parties’
arguments as well as the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors. See, e.g., United States v. Tomko,
562 F.3d 558, 567-68 (3d Cir. 2009) (en banc); United States v. Torres, 251 F.3d 138,
145-52 (3d Cir. 2001)
Outcome: We grant the motion to withdraw filed by Maldonado’s counsel and will affirm the
judgment of conviction.