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United States of America v. Steven Markle

December 14, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
STEVEN MARKLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pooler, Circuit Judge

United States v. Markle

Argued: September 9, 2009

Docket No. 06-1600-cr

JACOBS,Chief Judge, POOLER and B.D. PARKER, Circuit Judges.

Appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York (Arcara, J.), convicting Appellant Steven Markle of two counts of attempted Hobbs Act extortion in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). Markle was sentenced to two concurrent terms of 57 months in prison, followed by two concurrent terms of two years of supervised release. We conclude the district court did not err in denying a defense under United States v. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396 (1973), because such defense is limited to labor-management disputes and does not extend to inter-union violence. Lastly, we conclude that the district court did not improperly enhance Markle's sentence. Accordingly, we affirm the district court.

Steven Markle appeals from a March 23, 2006 judgment of conviction and sentence of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York (Arcara, J.). A jury found Markle guilty of two counts of attempted Hobbs Act extortion in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). The district court entered a judgment of conviction and sentenced Markle to two concurrent terms of 57 months' imprisonment, followed by two concurrent terms of two years of supervised release.

On appeal, Markle raises two issues. First, Markle argues that the district court denied his right to a fair trial by precluding a defense under United States v. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396 (1973). Markle argues that the district court erred by holding that the defense was unavailable as a matter of law. Markle requests that we vacate the judgment of conviction and remand for a new trial. Second, Markle argues that the district court erred by imposing sentence enhancements of two levels for bodily injury and one level for monetary loss. Markle requests that we vacate his sentence and remand to the district court.

We affirm the district court's judgment of conviction and sentence. Although Enmons created a defense to Hobbs Act liability, the district court correctly concluded that such a defense was not available here. The Enmons defense is limited to labor-management disputes and does not extend to inter-union violence. Lastly, the district court did not improperly enhance Markle's sentence based on bodily injury and monetary loss.

I. FACTS

On September 16, 1998, Markle was involved in a fight between his union, Laborers International Union of North America, Local 91 ("Local 91"), and the Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen Union ("Bricklayers Union") at a construction site in Niagara Falls, New York. Both unions claimed that they had an exclusive contractual right to perform fine sweep work at the construction site for E.G. Sackett Company. Such work is the final, critical step to prepare a floor surface before installing tile. The unions' disagreement escalated into violence. At least fifteen members of Local 91, including Markle, confronted and then physically attacked members of the Bricklayers Union at the construction site.

After the attack, at least four members of the Bricklayers Union sought medical treatment. James Skidds testified that he was treated at the hospital for an elbow abrasion and tenderness in the thigh, and he received a tetanus shot. Kyle Acel was treated for bruised ribs, shoulder, jaw, and back. Ira Maney went to the hospital and later testified that he "was hurting pretty bad." Leon Carr took off two days of work after he was treated for pain while breathing, abrasions, and bruises.

On June 25, 2003, a federal grand jury indicted Markle and fourteen other Local 91 members. Markle was charged with two counts of attempted Hobbs Act extortion. See 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), (b)(2).

Before trial, Markle moved to dismiss the Government's charges of attempted Hobbs Act extortion, arguing that under United States v. Enmons, 410 U.S. 396 (1973), the Hobbs Act does not extend to his alleged conduct. The district court denied Markle's motion to dismiss, ruling that the Enmons defense "is inapplicable to this case" because Markle's alleged conduct was not incident to a collective bargaining dispute between an employer and labor union, and it was not in pursuit of "legitimate labor ends." Relying on this ruling, the district court precluded Markle from presenting the Enmons defense at trial and refused to instruct the jury on the defense. The jury found Markle guilty of both counts of attempted Hobbs Act extortion.

On March 7, 2006, the district court sentenced Markle to concurrent terms of 57 months' imprisonment, concurrent terms of two years' supervised release, and ordered Markle to pay $20,000 in restitution to E.G. Sackett Company. As relevant to this appeal, the district court calculated Markle's Sentencing Guidelines range to include a two-level enhancement for bodily injuries sustained by the Bricklayers Union victims, U.S.S.G. ยง ...


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