Argued: May 11, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Middle District
of North Carolina, at Greensboro. William L. Osteen, Jr.,
Chief District Judge. (1:15-cr-00243-WO-1;
Denise Andrews, HOLTON LAW FIRM, PLLC, Winston-Salem, North
Carolina, for Appellant.
Jane Hairston, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY,
Greensboro, North Carolina, for Appellee.
Rand, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES
ATTORNEY, Greensboro, North Carolina, for Appellee.
NIEMEYER, MOTZ, and THACKER, Circuit Judges.
THACKER, Circuit Judge:
Christopher Bolton ("Appellant") appeals his
consolidated sentence for convictions in two separate cases
-- one involving marijuana distribution and the other
involving cocaine distribution. Following his indictment and
arrest on the marijuana charges, law enforcement discovered
firearms, cash, and more marijuana in Appellant's
bedroom. Then, while released on bond for the marijuana
charges, Appellant was arrested on the cocaine charges.
consolidated sentencing hearing, Appellant attempted to show
that the firearms were connected to hunting in order to avoid
a sentence enhancement for possessing a firearm in connection
with drug distribution. But the district court rejected this
claim and applied the enhancement. Next, although Appellant
sought an offense-level reduction given his lack of criminal
history, the district court also rejected this argument,
holding Appellant was ineligible for the reduction because he
possessed a firearm in connection with his offense.
Additionally, given Appellant's arrest while released on
bond, the district court refused to reduce Appellant's
offense level for acceptance of responsibility, despite
cooperation he provided the Government. Finally, the court
varied upward from Appellant's Sentencing Guideline range
by 40 months.
now challenges each of these sentencing determinations.
Finding no reversible error, we affirm.
November 24, 2014, a grand jury in the Middle District of
North Carolina returned a multi-count indictment charging
multiple defendants, including Appellant, with conspiracy to
distribute marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
846 and 841(a)(1) (the "Marijuana Indictment").
Specifically, the Marijuana Indictment charged Appellant with
conspiring to distribute marijuana and using a communication
facility to facilitate the conspiracy. On December 4, 2014,
Appellant was arrested pursuant to the Marijuana Indictment.
He consented to a search of his residence. During the search,
a 12-gauge shotgun and 22-250 bolt action rifle were
discovered in Appellant's bedroom along with boxes of
ammunition, approximately 400 grams of marijuana, and $912 in
cash. A records search indicated that the shotgun was
reported stolen. On December 16, 2014, Appellant was released
February 25, 2015, Appellant pled guilty to conspiracy to
distribute marijuana and using a communication facility to
facilitate drug trafficking per the Marijuana Indictment. The
factual basis in support of the plea agreement stated that
throughout September 2012, law enforcement intercepted
cellular phone calls between Appellant and another individual
indicating that the two conspired to distribute around eight
pounds of marijuana "during the period alleged in the
indictment." J.A. 44-47. The conspiracy alleged in the indictment
lasted "[f]rom in or about 2012, continuing up to and
including in or about February 2013." Id. at
15. Following the guilty plea, the
district court also granted Appellant's motion to modify
his terms of release to remove an electronic location monitor
so as to allow him to return to work. The court scheduled a
sentencing hearing on the Marijuana Indictment for June 3,
April 18, 2015, Drug Enforcement Administration agents
discovered Appellant was involved in cocaine distribution. As
a result, on April 21, 2015, the court revoked
Appellant's bond and issued a warrant for his arrest. Two
days later, on April 23, 2015, Appellant surrendered to law
enforcement. After Appellant's surrender, on May 6, 2015,
he met with law enforcement for debriefing and provided
information about the other individuals involved in the
cocaine distribution. On May 18, 2015, the district court
continued Appellant's sentencing for the marijuana
charges to August 26, 2015.
30, 2015, while Appellant was awaiting sentencing on the
marijuana charges, a grand jury in the Middle District of
North Carolina returned a second indictment against Appellant
and other defendants, charging them with conspiracy to
distribute 500 grams or more of a substance containing
cocaine hydrochloride, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
846 and 841 (the "Cocaine Indictment").
August 7, 2015, Appellant pled guilty to the Cocaine
Indictment. The factual basis for Appellant's plea
provided that on April 16, 2015, Appellant sold 3.4 grams of
marijuana to an individual working as a confidential
informant and offered to sell the individual a kilogram of
cocaine hydrochloride. Then, over the next two ...