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United States v. Mattea

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit

July 17, 2018

United States of America, Appellee
v.
Michael Mattea, Appellant

          Argued December 14, 2017

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:16-cr-00093-1)

          Mary E. Davis, appointed by the court, argued the cause for appellant. With her on the briefs was Thomas Abbenante, appointed by the court.

          David P. Saybolt, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Channing D. Phillips, U.S. Attorney, and Elizabeth Trosman, Elizabeth H. Danello, and Lindsay Suttenberg, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

          Before: Griffith, Millett, and Pillard, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          GRIFFITH, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Michael Mattea pleaded guilty to the distribution of child pornography and agreed to an estimated sentencing range of 151 to 188 months in prison under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines ("Guidelines"). The district court sentenced Mattea to 151 months' incarceration. Mattea appeals, arguing that the district court abused its discretion by miscalculating the Guidelines range through application of an inappropriate enhancement and by refusing to impose a sentence below the Guidelines range. We reject Mattea's arguments and affirm the district court's sentence.

         I

         In February 2016, Mattea emailed someone he believed was the parent of a ten-year-old girl, but who turned out to be an undercover officer from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mattea told the officer he had a sexual interest in children and wanted to meet and sexually abuse the officer's purported daughter. Then, in March, Mattea sent the officer several sexually explicit images of a prepubescent girl who appeared to be between eleven and twelve years old.

         Officers shortly thereafter arrested Mattea at his home in West Virginia. Investigators seized Mattea's cell phone, computers, and other electronic devices. All told, law-enforcement officials found 187 videos and 116 images depicting child pornography, including videos depicting sexual acts with infants and toddlers.

         In October 2016, Mattea pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2). As part of his plea agreement, Mattea acknowledged that, under the Guidelines, his violation of § 2252(a)(2) set his "base offense level" at twenty-two (the highest level being forty-three). Mattea also agreed to the application of several enhancements that would increase his offense level and his estimated range of punishment. Specifically, Mattea received enhancements because his child-pornography offense concerned material involving a prepubescent minor or minor under twelve, U.S.S.G. § 2G2.2(b)(2); distribution of contraband, id. § 2G2.2(b)(3)(F); portrayal of sadistic or masochistic conduct, id. § 2G2.2(b)(4); use of a computer, id. § 2G2.2(b)(6); and 600 or more images of child pornography, id. § 2G2.2(b)(7)(D). In his plea agreement, Mattea expressly reserved the right to challenge the application of the computer-use enhancement at his sentencing hearing. These enhancements collectively added fifteen levels to Mattea's base offense level.

         Mattea's range was also adjusted three levels downward based on Mattea's demonstrated acceptance of responsibility and his cooperation with authorities. After applying each of these enhancements and downward adjustments, Mattea's total offense level yielded an estimated Guidelines range of 151 to 188 months' incarceration. Mattea agreed that any sentence within that range would be reasonable.

         The district court ultimately sentenced Mattea to 151 months' imprisonment, followed by 240 months of supervised ...


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