United States District Court, S.D. New York
February 4, 2004.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, -against- RAFAEL GONZALEZ, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT SWEET, Senior District Judge
On July 10, 2003, the defendant Rafael Gonzalez ("Gonzalez") pleaded
guilty to one count of Trafficking in Firearms Without a License, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922 (a)(1), a Class D Felony.
The Offense Conduct
The following fact recitation is drawn from the Presentence Report
dated January 22, 2004.
On August 29, 2002, special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco
and Firearms ("ATF") learned from a confidential informant ("CI") that a
co-conspirator not named as a defendant herein ("CC-1") had two firearms
for sale. The CI informed a law enforcement officer operating in an
undercover capacity ("UC") that the CC-1 was the same individual from
whom the CI had purchased firearms in April 2001 in connection with
another federal investigation
(the "First Federal Investigation"). A meeting was arranged for later
On August 29, 2002, the UC and the CI drove to the prearranged meeting
spot at 882 156th Street, Bronx, New York. The meeting was electronically
monitored and recorded by federal agents and other law enforcement
When the UC and the CI arrived at the meeting spot, Gonzalez was
waiting. The UC was re-introduced to Gonzalez, whom he had met in
connection with the First Federal Investigation. As the UC, the CI, and
Gonzalez were talking, the CC-1 drove up. After speaking with Gonzalez,
the CC-1 left the area. While the CC-1 was gone, Gonzalez told the UC
that he knew of another 9 millimeter firearm for sale for $400.00 but
that the gun "had a body on it." ATF agents knew that a gun "with a body
on it" means a gun that had been used to kill a person. Gonzalez also
asked the UC whether he would be interested in buying a "brick" (1
kilogram) of cocaine for $27,000. At this point, CC-1 returned with a
green bag with the words "First Aid" written on the front. CC-1 unzipped
the bag and handed the bag to the UC, mentioning that one of the firearms
was loaded. The bag contained a Bryco Arms 9 millimeter pistol and a
Lorcin .32 caliber pistol. The UC then gave CC-1 $1,100.00 for the two
On September 18, 2002, the UC and Gonzalez met with a co-conspirator
not named as a defendant herein ("CC-2"), in the vicinity of 163rd
Street and Morris Avenue in the Bronx, New York. The meeting had been
arranged by Gonzalez and was observed and electronically monitored and
recorded by federal agents and other law enforcement officers.
Upon his arrival at the pre-arranged meeting place of 163rd Street and
Morris Avenue in the Bronx, the UC met Gonzalez, who entered the UC's
vehicle and told him to pull alongside a dark-colored Mustang that was
also on the street. After the UC pulled up to the Mustang's driver's side
window, Gonzalez introduced CC-2, who was driving the Mustang, to the UC.
The UC and Gonzalez then followed the Mustang to the vicinity of 162nd
Street near the intersection of Park and Teller Avenues in the Bronx,
where the Mustang pulled up next to the UC's vehicle and stopped.
The CC-2 told the UC that he had a .38 caliber revolver for sale ("the
Gun") that belonged to his aunt, who is a retired law enforcement
officer. The UC and CC-2 negotiated a price of $475 for the Gun, and CC-2
told the UC to follow him to his apartment.
The UC and Gonzalez then followed CC-2 in the UC's car to the vicinity
of 160th Street between Cortlandt and Morris Avenues in the Bronx. The
CC-2 exited the Mustang and entered an apartment
building at 366 160th Street. The CC-2 returned with a black plastic bag
containing the Gun, which he handed to the UC through the driver's side
window of the UC's vehicle. The UC then gave CC-2 $480 and received a $5
bill in change. CC-2 told the UC that he had fired two shots from the Gun
the night before. CC-2 also discussed getting a "baby nine" and took the
UC and Gonzalez into his apartment building to show him the "baby nine."
Inside the apartment building, CC-2 showed Gonzalez and the UC a Taurus
Millennium 9 millimeter pistol ("the 9 mm") wrapped in a shirt on top of
a radiator outside the first apartment door to the left. The CC-2 told
the UC he did not want to sell the 9 mm, but told the UC that someone he
knew was bringing him seventeen "baby nines" which he would sell for $450
The CC-2 then walked Gonzalez and the UC back to the UC's car. Gonzalez
asked CC-2 "Where's my cut?" to which CC-2 replied, "How about $30?" CC-2
handed Gonzalez an undetermined sum of money. Gonzalez then asked the UC
for a "bill" for arranging to have the UC buy the guns. The UC gave
On September 27, 2002, the UC met CC-1 and Gonzalez to purchase another
firearm in the vicinity of 882 East 156th Street in the Bronx, New York.
The meeting was electronically monitored and recorded by federal agents
and other law enforcement officers.
On September 27, 2002, the UC drove to the front of 882 East I56th
Street, Bronx, New York. A few minutes later, Gonzalez exited 882 East
156th Street and approached the UC's vehicle. Gonzalez, then called to
CC-1, who was seated in a vehicle across the street. The CC-1 exited his
vehicle and approached the car in which the UC was seated. The CC-1 and
the UC discussed a .357 Smith & Wesson revolver (the ".357") and an
AK-47 that CC-1 had for sale. CC-1 wanted $650.00 for the .357 and
$1,200.00 for the AK-47, although he stated that he did not have access
to the AK-47 at that time.
Around this time, a blue vehicle (the "Blue Car") approached. The CC-1
informed the UC that the driver of the Blue Car was the owner of the
.357. Gonzalez told CC-1 to "go get it." The CC-1 then talked with the
driver of the Blue Car and drove away in his own vehicle. A few minutes
later, the CC-1 returned with a red plastic bag containing a shoe box.
Inside the shoe box was a .357 Smith & Wesson revolver. After the UC
put the firearm in his trunk, the CC-1 and the UC got into the UC's car
and the UC paid CC-1 the previously agreed-upon price of $600.00 for the
.357. The CC-1 said he would call the UC when he had the AK-47. CC-1 then
gave Gonzalez $40 and left.
On February 25, 2003, the UC spoke by phone with Gonzalez and CC-1
about purchasing guns and 62 grams of crack cocaine. Gonzalez told the UC
that he knew another individual who had three
guns for sale for $1,400.00 and could get the UC crack. A meeting
was arranged for the following day in the vicinity of 882 East I56th
Street in the Bronx, New York.
On February 26, 2003, the UC drove to the front of the building located
at 882 East 156th Street in the Bronx, New York, and honked his horn.
Several minutes later, Gonzalez, and a co-conspirator not named as a
defendant herein ("CC-3"), came out of the building and got into the UC's
car. Gonzalez got into the front passenger seat, and CC-3 got into the
back seat. The CC-3 said that he knew a girl who had two guns for sale,
an AK-47 fully automatic and a nickel-plated .357 magnum with rubber
handles, as well as a bag of bullets. The CC-3 wanted $1,400.00 for the
guns and said the girl wanted $700. CC-3 said he would have to go get the
guns from his uncle's apartment a few blocks away.
The CC-3 then directed the UC to drive to the front of 950 Union Avenue
in the Bronx, New York. On the drive over, the UC tried to negotiate the
price downward because CC-3 had only two guns for sale, not three as
promised. The CC-3 said it would take him about twenty minutes to go
inside and get the guns because he had to meet a girl. Both Gonzalez and
CC-3 pushed the UC to go into the apartment with CC-3 and inspect the
guns while Gonzalez waited in the car. The UC refused.
The CC-3 then got out of the car and approached a car that had followed
the UC's car onto Union Avenue and parked further down the street. When
CC-3 got to the car, law enforcement agents exited the car and arrested
CC-3. Gonzalez, who was seated in the UC's car, was arrested
ATF agents were aware that Bryco Arms 9 millimeter pistols, Lorcin .32
caliber pistols, Smith & Wesson .38 caliber pistols, and Smith &
Wesson .357 revolvers were not and never have been manufactured in the
State of New York.
Adjustment for Acceptance of Responsibility
Gonzalez stated that he aided and abetted in the sale of five firearms
and received approximately $130 for his participation in the sales. He
further stated that he regrets having participated in the offense because
his actions have caused pain to his family.
Offense Level Computation
The November 1, 2003 edition of the Guidelines Manual has been used in
The guideline for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922 (a)(1) is found
in § 2K2.1 which provides for a base offense level of 12
pursuant to § 2K2.1(a)(7). As the offense involved 5 handguns, the offense
level is increased 2 pursuant to § 2K2.1(b)(1)(A), to 14.
Based on Gonzalez's statement, he has shown a recognition of
responsibility for the offense. Pursuant to § 3E1.1(a), the offense level
is reduced by two, to 12.
Criminal History Category
Gonzalez has no known criminal convictions. Therefore, he has zero
criminal history points and a Criminal History Category of I.
Applicable Guidelines Range
The sentencing guidelines range for offense level 12, Criminal History
Category I is 10 to 16 months.
Gonzalez has moved for a downward departure pursuant to § 5K2.13.
Before Gonzalez moved, the Government filed an opposition to a § 5K2.13
departure based on the Psychiatric Report (the "Report") prepared by
Richard G. Dudley, Jr., M.D. ("Dr. Dudley") and dated January 6, 2004.
The Report concludes that Gonzalez should be considered for a § 5K2.13
departure. Section 5K2.13
provides that a downward departure may be warranted if "(1) the defendant
committed the offense while suffering from a significantly reduced mental
capacity; and (2) the significantly reduced mental capacity contributed
substantially to the commission of the offense." According to the
corresponding Application Note, for the purposes of § 5K2.13:
`Significantly reduced mental capacity' means the
defendant, although convicted, has a significantly
impaired ability to (A) understand the wrongfulness of
the behavior comprising the offense or to exercise the
power of reason; or (B) control behavior that the
defendant knows is wrongful.
Gonzalez has not argued that he was unable to control his behavior;
accordingly, subsection (A) is the relevant provision.
In his Report, Dr. Dudley states that Gonzalez suffers from "multiple
psychiatric and neuropsychiatric difficulties", Gonzalez's "intellectual
capacities, thinking and judgment are and have always been significantly
impaired; he is now and was always plagued by an overwhelming anxiety and
impulsivity; and he is and has been chronically depressed and irritable."
Report, p. 13.
As a result of these difficulties, at the time of the
crimes for which he has been charged, his mental
capacity to understand what was going on around him
and his mental capacity for reasonable decision-making
were both significantly impaired/diminished.
Notably, the Report does not state that Gonzalez's ability to
understand the wrongfulness of his behavior was impaired. In addition,
while Gonzalez's diminished capacity for "reasonable decision-making" is
described, the Report does not provide sufficient evidence to establish
that his "reduced mental capacity contributed substantially to the
commission of the offense." § 5K2.13; see also United States v. Jimenez,
212 F. Supp.2d 214, 215 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) ("logic suggests that mere
temporal coincidence is insufficient, and that some degree of causal link
between the diminished capacity and the criminal act is required.").
Further, "§ 5K2.13 may not apply at all because firearm offenses
represent a serious threat of violence and, as such, may disqualify a
defendant from a diminished capacity departure regardless of mental
condition." United States v. Allen, 250 F. Supp.2d 317, 320 (S.D.N.Y.
2003). Gonzalez is therefore not entitled to a departure for
significantly diminished mental capacity under § 5K2.13.
However, as in Allen, Gonzalez's limited capacity, especially the
finding of Dr. Dudley that Gonzalez's "intellectual capacity is in the
borderline range," and that further testing would likely reveal that he
is mentally retarded, see Report, p. 12, takes "his case outside the
heartland of . . . gun distribution cases." Allen, 250 F. Supp.2d at
320-21. As the Allen court held,
The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 requires a
sentencing court to impose a sentence within the range
the Guidelines "unless the court finds that there
exists an aggravating or mitigating circumstance of a
kind, or to a degree, not adequately taken into
consideration by the Sentencing Commission in
formulating the guidelines that should result in a
sentence different from that described."
18 U.S.C. § 3553(b). Moreover, in Koon v. United
States, 518 U.S. 81, 113, 116 S.Ct. 2035, 135 L.Ed.2d
392 (1996), the Supreme Court held that " [i]t has
been uniform and constant in the federal judicial
tradition for the sentencing judge to consider every
convicted person as an individual and every case as a
unique study in the human failings that sometimes
mitigate, sometimes magnify, the crime and punishment
to ensue." See also United States v. Payton, 159 F.3d 49,
60 (2d Cir. 1998) ("Realizing some cases will fall
outside the heartland of typical cases, Congress
entrusted sentencing courts with discretion to take
into account specific characteristics of the
Id. at 321.
Dr. Dudley's Report provides an opportunity to consider Gonzalez as an
individual and to take into account his specific characteristics. The
Report notes that Gonzalez "was born with cognitive deficits." Report,
p. 12. When Gonzalez was between the ages of 7 and 10, he witnessed his
father stabbing a man 14 times who he suspected was involved with his
wife. Gonzalez was "severely traumatized by seeing his father commit an
extremely brutal murder," id., as well as by the devastation it brought
on his mother. Dr. Dudley diagnosed Gonzalez with Posttraumatic Stress
Disorder ("PTSD"), which is characterized by "symptoms such as
`flashbacks' (or at least intrusive thoughts) about the trauma, avoidance
behavior related to the trauma, overwhelming anxiety/fear, and
While PTSD on its own would be insufficient to affect a defendant's
development sufficiently to merit a departure, in Gonzalez's case the
effects of PTSD were compounded by "parental abandonment and neglect"
which "further impaired his psychological development, resulting in the
development of a Borderline Personality Disorder." Id. The primary
symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder "is a pervasive pattern of
instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and
a marked impulsivity that begins by early adulthood and is present in a
variety of contexts." Id. (quoting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition Text Revision (DSM-IVTR).
At age 19, Gonzalez suffered head trauma when he fell in the shower and
was unconscious for approximately an hour and a half. The Report
indicates that the injury Gonzalez suffered "likely resulted in further
brain damage and further impairment of his cognitive capacities."
Id. at 13.
Gonzalez is illiterate. While he was placed in special education
classes as a child and adolescent, his attendance at school was
frequently disrupted and he therefore "never really benefitted from
whatever assistance the special education system might have provided for
Gonzalez is now enrolled in a literacy program and attends
psychological counseling. He is also employed full-time.
The Court has also received letters from members of the community
attesting to his willingness to help others. One of Gonzalez's neighbors
wrote of the assistance Gonzalez provided in apprehending the persons who
broke into the neighbor's van and stole his tools.
Taking into account "this confluence of personality defects, coupled
with defendant's borderline intellectual functioning, it becomes apparent
that defendant has real mental and emotional deficits." Allen, 250 F.
Supp.2d at 322. Accordingly, a two-level departure, from offense level 12
to 10, is warranted in this case.
"The Second Circuit has instructed district courts to provide
sufficient reasons to justify the magnitude of any given departure." Id.
(citing United States v. Barresi, 316 F.3d 69, 72 (2d Cir. 2002)). A
two-level departure is appropriate in light of the fact that despite
Gonzalez's limited intellectual functioning, there is nothing in
Gonzalez's history to suggest that he poses a danger to the public or
that the public needs to be protected from him. This is Gonzalez's first
criminal conviction and accordingly he has never been incarcerated.
Imposing a period of home detention rather than incarceration will
adequately serve the aims of punishment and deterrence. A period of
probation, when combined with continuing counseling, education and
employment, would also serve the aim of rehabilitation, a process which
has already begun for Gonzalez. At offense level 10, Criminal History
Gonzalez's guideline range is 6-12 months. Because the range is in Zone
D, a sentence of probation is authorized if the court imposes a condition
or combination of conditions requiring intermittent confinement,
community confinement, or home detention. § 5B1.1(a)-(2).
In light of the above, Gonzalez is sentenced to 10 months home
detention, to be followed by three years of supervised release. No fine
is imposed because of Gonzales' financial status.
Gonzalez is to be supervised in the district of his residence and the
standard conditions of probation as recommended by the Probation
Department shall apply. In addition, the following mandatory conditions
also apply: (1) The defendant shall not commit another federal, state, or
local crime; (2) the defendant shall not illegally possess a controlled
substance; and (3) the defendant shall not possess a firearm or
destructive device; (4) the mandatory drug testing condition is suspended
due to the imposition of a special condition requiring drug treatment and
The following special condition is also imposed: The defendant will
participate in a program approved by the United States Probation Office,
which program may include testing to
determine whether the defendant has reverted to using drugs or alcohol.
The Court authorizes the release of available drug treatment evaluations
and reports to the substance abuse treatment provider, as approved by the
Probation Officer. The defendant will be required to contribute to the
costs of services rendered (co-payment), in an amount determined by the
probation officer, based on ability to pay or availability of the
third-party payment. It is further ordered that the defendant shall pay
to the United States a special assessment of $100, which shall be due
This sentence is subject to further hearing on February 5, 2004.
It is so ordered.
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