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United States v. Taylor

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 18, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
TERAZZE A. TAYLOR, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted, Seattle, Washington February 6, 2014

Page 843

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. D.C. No. 2:12-cr-00195-JLR-4. James L. Robart, District Judge, Presiding.

Sharon J. Blackford (argued), Sharon Blackford PLLC, Seattle, Washington, for Defendant-Appellant.

Helen J. Brunner (argued), S. Kate Vaughan, Assistant United States Attorneys, Jenny A. Durkan, United States Attorney, Seattle, Washington, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before: Raymond C. Fisher, Ronald M. Gould and Morgan B. Christen, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 844

FISHER, Circuit Judge

Defendant Terazze Taylor appeals the district court's imposition of a two-level enhancement for obstruction of justice under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual (U.S.S.G.) § 3C1.1, based on Taylor's false and misleading testimony at a bond revocation hearing in this case. We hold that Taylor's willful, false statements during the bond revocation hearing warranted enhancement as an attempt to obstruct or impede the administration of justice with respect to the prosecution " of the instant offense of conviction." Id. We therefore affirm his sentence.

I

In July 2012, Taylor was arrested for submitting fraudulent travel vouchers to the Veteran's Administration (VA). A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Taylor frequently traveled to a VA Medical Center for various medical appointments. He sought reimbursement for his travel expenses, but intentionally gave an incorrect address on the form, thereby increasing the amount of each reimbursement by $165. He also sought reimbursement for days he did not attend any medical appointments. In total, Taylor fraudulently obtained approximately $16,599 in travel reimbursements from the VA.

After his arrest, Taylor was released on a pretrial appearance bond with the standard condition that he not commit a further federal, state or local crime. Shortly thereafter, however, Taylor was charged with domestic violence for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend, Jovan Ness. The state prosecutor dismissed the charges without prejudice, but Taylor was arrested on a federal warrant for violating a condition of his appearance bond in this case, prompting a pretrial bond revocation hearing.

At the hearing, the government presented the testimony of an independent eyewitness, two police officers and Taylor's probation officer on the merits of the domestic violence charges. The independent witness testified that she observed Taylor physically assaulting Ness and pulling her forcefully from her vehicle while Ness screamed for assistance. One of the police officers testified that Ness told him Taylor had assaulted her. Another police officer who spoke with Taylor after the incident testified that Taylor denied having had any interaction with Ness at all that day. According to the probation officer, however, Taylor's GPS monitoring bracelet indicated that he was within 10 feet of the location of the alleged assault for approximately three minutes at the time in question.

Taylor testified on his own behalf, as did Ness, the alleged victim. Ness denied that Taylor had ...


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