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United States v. Betts

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

March 28, 2018

United States of America, Appellee,
v.
Jeffrey D. Betts, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: January 23, 2018

          On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of New York

         Defendant Jeffrey Betts appeals from a December 7, 2016 judgment of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York (Richard J. Arcara, Judge) in which he was sentenced principally to a term of ten months' imprisonment and four years of supervised release, with special conditions of supervised release. The District Court ordered that the defendant refrain from consuming any alcohol whatsoever while under supervision. It also required substance abuse testing, stating that "[t]here will be zero tolerance of the use of any drugs at all." J.A. at 154 (emphasis added).

         Betts now argues that this newly imposed sentence of four years of supervised release is substantively unreasonable. He also argues that the District Court erred in imposing the special conditions relating to alcohol and drugs.

         We reject defendant's argument that the imposition of an additional four years of supervised release was substantively unreasonable. We also reject defendant's argument that the District Court erred in imposing a special condition requiring defendant to submit to periodic drug testing. We agree with defendant that the District Court's imposition of a total ban on the consumption of alcohol was not reasonably related to the nature and circumstances of the defendant's offense.

         Accordingly, we AFFIRM in part and VACATE in part the judgment of the District Court.

          Elizabeth R. Moellering, Assistant United States Attorney, for James P. Kennedy, Jr., Interim United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, Buffalo, NY, Appellee.

          Jayme L. Feldman, Federal Public Defender for the Western District of New York, Buffalo, NY, for Appellant- Defendant.

          Before: Leval, Calabresi, Cabranes, Circuit Judges.

          José A. Cabranes, Circuit Judge

Defendant Jeffrey Betts ("defendant" or "Betts") appeals from a December 7, 2016 judgment of the United States District Court for the Western District of New York in which he was sentenced principally to a term of ten months' imprisonment and four years of supervised release. This sentence resulted from Betts's multiple violations while on supervised release for a previous conviction for conspiracy to commit bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. He was originally sentenced to principally 24 months in prison, followed by five years' supervised release. His initial term of supervised release began on August 2, 2013, upon his release from prison.

         The violations for which Betts was most recently sentenced included two arrests for driving without a license and failure to make required restitution payments in the amount of ten percent of his gross monthly income. On November 28, 2016, after being remanded to the custody of the United States Marshals Service, he appeared before the District Court and admitted to violation number 3 (failure to notify his probation officer within 72 hours of being arrested), based on his July 29, 2016 arrest for driving without a license. Betts pleaded guilty to this violation pursuant to a plea agreement, which anticipated an advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines ("Guidelines") range of imprisonment of 4 to 10 months. The Agreement also projected that, under the Guidelines, Betts would be subject to a maximum term of supervised release of five years.

         In addition to sentencing Betts to ten months' imprisonment and four years of supervised release, the District Court imposed special conditions of supervised release. It ordered that the defendant refrain from consuming any alcohol whatsoever while under supervision. It also required substance abuse testing, stating that "[t]here will be zero tolerance of the use of any drugs at all." J.A. at 154 (emphasis added).

         Betts now asserts that this newly imposed sentence of four years of supervised release is substantively unreasonable. He also claims that the District Court erred in imposing ...


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