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U.S. v. Woods

filed: May 17, 1994; As Corrected June 24, 1994.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE
v.
ALAN WOODS, APPELLANT



On Appeal From the United States District Court For the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. (D.C. Crim. No. 91-00441-01).

Before: Becker, Mansmann, and Scirica, Circuit Judges.

Author: Becker

Opinion OF THE COURT

BECKER, Circuit Judge.

This is a Guidelines Sentencing appeal. Appellant Alan Woods was sentenced under the United States Sentencing Guidelines for his involvement in two armored truck robberies. At sentencing, the district court gave Woods a two level increase in his sentence for obstruction of Justice because Woods had given the government misleading information in an effort to avoid implicating two friends in a third armored truck robbery. Woods argues that because the misleading information did not impede or obstruct the investigation or prosecution of the offenses for which he was convicted, neither an upward adjustment for "obstruction of Justice" under § 3C1.1 nor a departure under § 5K2.0 was permissible under the Guidelines. Because of the manner in which the Guidelines are written in this area, we feel constrained to agree with Woods, and hence, albeit reluctantly, we vacate the judgment of sentence and remand for resentencing.

I. BACKGROUND

From August 1990 until July 1991, Woods took part in a series of robberies of armored trucks in and around Philadelphia. In September 1991, a grand jury indicted Woods for the robbery of a Brooks armored truck outside the Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia (the "Temple robbery").*fn1 On February 7, 1992, one day after the trial began, Woods entered a guilty plea in which he admitted participating not only in the Temple robbery but also in another armored truck robbery at Amtrak 30th Street Station (the "Amtrak robbery"), also in Philadelphia.

The plea agreement provided that Woods would provide the government information about any other person who was involved in the Temple robbery, the Amtrak robbery, and "any other robberies or crimes [of] which he has knowledge." The agreement also provided that "if the government determines that the defendant has not provided full and truthful cooperation . . . the agreement may be voided by the government and the defendant shall be subject to prosecution for any federal crime which the government has knowledge including . . . perjury, obstruction of Justice, and the substantive offenses arising from this investigation."

Woods then began supplying the FBI with information about the Temple and Amtrak robberies. He also told the FBI about two other armored truck robberies, one at a branch of the Liberty Bank and another at a Pathmark Supermarket. He later gave this same information during his testimony before a grand jury.

Woods' descriptions of the Temple, Amtrak, and Pathmark robberies were substantially the same as those given by other cooperating witnesses. Woods' description of the Liberty Bank robbery, however, was significantly different. To begin with, Woods denied his involvement in the Liberty Bank robbery, claiming that he had been at home when it occurred. In fact, Woods had been in a vehicle circling the vicinity of the robbery and was at the "switch site" acting as a lookout. More importantly for purposes of this appeal, however, Woods consistently denied that two friends of his, William Edney and Earl Glenn, were involved in the crime. The FBI later found out, however, that both Edney and Glenn had participated in the robbery, eventually gathering enough evidence to prosecute them. But Woods' conduct delayed the prosecution of Edney and Glenn for eight months.

At Woods' sentencing hearing the district court heard testimony about Woods' conduct during the investigation of the Liberty Bank robbery. The district court found that Woods had made materially false statements to the FBI and grand jury, whereupon it concluded that "the defendant 'obstructed Justice' by providing materially false statements to the FBI and by committing perjury before the grand jury." The court then increased the defendant's offense level two levels "pursuant to either § 5K2.0 or § 3C1.1." This appeal followed, in which Woods argues that the two level increase was inappropriate either as an upward adjustment pursuant to § 3C1.1 or as an upward departure pursuant to § 5K2.0.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Section 3C1.1, "Obstruction of Justice"

Section 3C1.1 of the Guidelines ...


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