Court Opinions: 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion for June 27

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

Editor’s Note: Law Week Colorado edits court opinion summaries for style and, when necessary, length.

United States v. Pasalodos

Emmanuel Pasalodos is a citizen of Cuba who immigrated to the U.S. in 2016. 

In December 2018, Pasalodos pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess counterfeit access devices after admitting he and a co-conspirator placed credit card skimming devices received from a third co-conspirator in Florida on gas station pumps in Colorado. Pasalodos’ statutory maximum term of imprisonment was five years. Based on the offense level and his criminal history, the advisory guideline range was 37 to 46 months. 

While the presentence report noted Pasalodos was a “minor participant” in the Colorado scheme, the report also noted he had been arrested in Louisiana in October 2017 and Mississippi in March 2018 and charged with similar misconduct. Following a sentencing hearing in March 2019, the district court departed downward from the guideline range, due in part to Pasalodos’ assistance to authorities, and sentenced him to 15 months in prison with three years of supervised release. Pasalodos’ term of supervised release began five days later and he was permitted to serve this term in the Southern District of Florida, where he had been living before his arrest in Colorado.

Less than three months after his release from federal custody, Pasalodos left the district without permission and again began engaging in activities related to credit card fraud — this time in Georgia. During a traffic stop in which Pasalodos was a passenger, police found a digital card reader in the vehicle and counterfeit credit cards on his person. He pleaded guilty to a fraud charge in Georgia state court and served two years in custody. Following his release in 2021, Pasalodos’ federal probation officer petitioned the district court in Colorado to revoke his supervised release. The petition asserted two supervision violations: committing a new crime and traveling outside the Southern District of Florida without permission. The district court subsequently revoked Pasalodos’ supervised release.

Despite a guideline’s revocation policy statement that recommended four to 10 months of imprisonment, the district court sentenced Pasalodos to 22 months over his insistence that four was a sufficient sentence. This sentence fell within the statutory maximum of two years. 

On appeal to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Pasalodos challenged the district court’s imposition of a 22-month sentence of imprisonment following the revocation of his supervised release as substantively unreasonable. 

Pasalodos claimed his 22-month sentence was unreasonable because it was much greater than necessary to achieve the sentencing goals and therefore constituted an abuse of the district court’s discretion. Pasalodos said the district court failed to give adequate weight to certain facts, including the recommended sentencing range and his previous time served. 

The district court informed Pasalodos that the recommended guideline range was a four to 10-month sentence with a maximum term of 24 months. The court also informed him that in its sentencing, it was “focusing” not on his prior criminality for which he had served time, but “on the proper breach; that is, the breach of trust between him and the court.”

Because the district court exercised its discretion consistent with the applicable law, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Pasalodos’ argument that the sentence imposed upon the revocation of his supervised release was substantively unreasonable. The judgment of the district court was affirmed.

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