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March 16, 2021

Amusing (but still quite serious) reminder of what not to do while awaiting federal sentencing

A Sixth Circuit panel yesterday issued a notable (unpublished) opinion in US v. Cadieux, No. 20-1689 (6th Cir. Mar. 15, 2021) (available here).  It is hard not to be somewhat amused by the facts of the case, but it is still important not to downplay the serious sentencing realities involved.  Here are the factual basics:

Cadieux was involved in a Michigan conspiracy to distribute marijuana in which he grew and then sold at least 100 pounds of processed marijuana over the course of two years to Andrew Bravo who then sold the drugs to others.  Cadieux was arrested and charged in December 2019 for his role in this drug-trafficking conspiracy.

He was very cooperative in the case against him.  Shortly after his arrest, he gave the government information and testified before a grand jury.  And after the court released him on bond, Cadieux entered into a plea agreement and pled guilty to conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana. While out on bond, however, Cadieux also made some poor choices.

First, he violated his conditions of release when he ate a marijuana brownie, tested positive for marijuana three times, and took two Adderall pills prescribed to someone else. Second, he discussed details of his pending criminal investigation on a local radio show, “Free Beer and Hot Wings,” after the hosts asked listeners about the easiest money they had ever made.  Cadieux told the hosts that he had made about three million dollars in past three years growing and selling marijuana.  He acknowledged that he was going to prison for it.  But he said “it was worth it” because he was only going to prison for 15 to 24 months, and he could keep the money he made because he was “good at hiding” it. (R. 173, Presentencing Report, PageID 331.)  He told them his plan was to “get out and do it again,” but he said that the next time he was “gonna do it legally . . . but in [his] wife’s name” because he couldn’t “do it in [his] name no more.” (First Call.)  One of the hosts responded, “yeah, you’ll be a felon . . . .” (Id.)  Third, after realizing the call had been a mistake, Cadieux called again and asked the show to “dump a cup of coffee on the sound board and get rid of the call” because the call had upset his attorney. (R. 185, Sentencing Hearing, PageID 597.) He offered to pay for a replacement.

After Cadieux’s call to “Free Beer and Hot Wings,” the government investigated Cadieux’s concealment of drug money.  It “identified significant sums of unexplained cash hid[den] in his bank accounts.” (Id. at 602.)  And Cadieux agreed to voluntarily forfeit $75,000, which the government believed more accurately represented his drug profits than Cadieux’s statements on the air.

Critically, Cadieux's calls into the "Free Beer and Hot Wings" radio show ended up costing him a lot more than the forfeited $75,000.  Specifically, as a direct result of this call and his other pre-sentencing behavior, "probation’s presentence report (PSR) recommended an enhancement for obstruction of justice and refused to recommend a reduction for acceptance of responsibility."  The sentencing court adopted these recommendations:

It found that Cadieux was not entitled to the acceptance-of-responsibility reduction for two reasons: 1) Cadieux’s statements on the radio show indicating his intent to “go right back to it” coupled with his attempts to destroy the recording and 2) Cadieux’s continued drug use in violation of bond conditions. (Id. at 609-11.) It found the obstruction enhancement appropriate because “the phone calls were relevant for sentencing”; it was particularly troubled by “the request of the radio station to ditch the tape.” (Id. at 610.) The court sentenced him to 37 months.

The Sixth Circuit panel affirms these determinations and upholds the 37 month sentence.  Given that the defendant here might have only been looking originally at a little more than year in prison, it seems that his foolish braggadocio and related pre-sentencing behavior cost him more time in prison than his offense behavior of conspiring to distribute 50 kilograms or more of marijuana.

March 16, 2021 at 12:21 PM | Permalink


Sounds like the sequel to Half Baked? Call it Half Baked 2: Quarter (or Eighth!) Baked.

Posted by: hardreaders | Mar 16, 2021 5:43:19 PM

One of my all-time favorite cases like this one involves a defendant who advised a Federal Judge during his plea colloquy that he was then presently under the influence of cocaine in the Court room! One of the standard questions from the Judge during the plea colloquy is whether the defendant is then under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This defendant answered, "Yes, cocaine." The Judge asked him how recently he had used cocaine. The Defendant responded, "About 20 minutes ago in the Court's parking lot." The Judge asked him why he would have done that. Defendant responded that he had been out partying all night long, because he believed that the Court would revoke his bond and have him taken into custody immediately after he pleaded guilty, and hold him in custody until sentencing. Defendant didn't believe that he would get to party again and get high for several years, so he was partying as much as possible right up until his plea hearing. The Judge advised defendant that he was correct, the Court was going to revoke his bond and have him taken into custody. Because he was under the influence of cocaine, the Court could not take a plea from him. The Judge scheduled a new change of plea hearing in two more weeks. Talk about losing your acceptance of responsibility! In another Federal case, Defendant physically attacked his defense lawyer in the Courtroom before the Judge came on the bench. He punched the attorney in the face several times, knocked him to the floor, and was straddling his attorney, trying to choke him with his tie, when the U.S. Marshals intervened, pulled the Defendant off the attorney and handcuffed him. The Court granted counsel's request to withdraw and refused to postpone the sentencing hearing, or to appoint replacement counsel. The District Judge held that by physically attacking defense counsel in the Courtroom before sentencing, he had forfeited his 6th Amendment right to counsel. On appeal, the Circuit Court affirmed the District Judge's refusal to postpone sentencing or to appoint replacement counsel. Again, Defendant lost his acceptance of responsibility.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Mar 16, 2021 8:04:07 PM

Those are some crazy stories. I feel bad mostly for the attorneys, including this case; it must be really frustrating and/or painful. Someone did make out well in this case though—the radio show got a citation to its website from CA6, i.e., free advertising!

Posted by: hardreaders | Mar 17, 2021 12:03:11 AM

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