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Sentencing Guidelines – Enhancement

7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Name: United States of America v. Phillip Robinson

Case No.: 22-1472

Officials: Flaum, Scudder, and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.

Focus: Sentencing Guidelines – Enhancement

Robinson agreed to let an acquaintance, Solorzano, stay at his home in Chicago. Robinson apparently knew that Solorzano was there to sell cocaine; the two frequently exchanged coded text messages about potential deals. One day, Robinson drove to Indiana to pick up Solorzano after an ill-fated transaction had ended with Solorzano getting robbed. Robinson later texted Solorzano, “You should have taken me to watch your back.” Soon afterwards, Solorzano arranged a deal with an undercover officer. Robinson agreed to drive him, and upon their arrival, authorities approached the vehicle to arrest them. One officer said that, during the arrest, he saw his colleague pull a handgun from Robinson’s waistband. The gun was loaded. In addition, the officer who interrogated Robinson following the arrest said that Robinson told him he had brought the gun to avoid being robbed.

Robinson appeals the district court’s application of a sentencing enhancement following a jury trial. Primarily, he raises the familiar challenge that the Constitution prohibits using acquitted conduct for sentencing purposes. He also argues that the district court’s factual findings do not support its application of the enhancement. The use of acquitted conduct to enhance Robinson’s sentence did not violate his constitutional rights and the court made sufficient factual findings to apply the enhancement. The district court’s rationale for connecting the gun to the cocaine conspiracy was clear.


Decided 03/09/23

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