and Submitted May 17, 2018 Pasadena, California
from the United States District Court for the Central
District of California James V. Selna, District Judge,
Presiding D.C. Nos. 8:08-cr-00280-JVS-2, 8:08-cr-00280-JVS-1
Paul Sleisenger (argued), Los Angeles, California, for
Defendant-Appellant Armando Reyes Vera.
Gretchen Fusilier (argued), Carlsbad, California, for
Defendant-Appellant Salvador Reyes Vera.
M. Alden (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; Lawrence
S. Middleton, Chief, Criminal Division; United States
Attorney's Office, Los Angeles, California; for
Before: Kim McLane Wardlaw, Jacqueline H. Nguyen, and John B.
Owens, Circuit Judges.
panel vacated two defendants' sentences imposed on remand
for resentencing in a drug-trafficking conspiracy case, and
again remanded for resentencing.
prior appeal, this court affirmed the convictions but
remanded the sentences because unreliable evidence had been
presented to the jury.
panel held that the district court, on remand, committed
reversible error by relying heavily upon co-conspirator plea
agreements to determine the drug quantities attributable to
the defendants on the ground that the plea agreements were
reliable statements against interest under Fed.R.Evid.
804(b)(3). The panel held that district courts may not rely
solely on Rule 804(b)(3) to use non-self-inculpatory
statements in a co-conspirator's plea agreement to
determine a defendant's drug-quantity liability.
panel recognized that co-defendant plea agreements could have
some probative value at sentencing if otherwise supported by
sufficient indicia of reliability. On this record, the panel
concluded there were not sufficient indicia of reliability to
support the plea agreements' probable accuracy as to drug
quantity, and that the factual bases in the plea agreements
were not corroborated by other information that made their
(and brothers) Salvador and Armando Vera appeal their
sentences for drug-trafficking conspiracy. We previously
affirmed their convictions but remanded their sentences
because unreliable evidence had been presented to the jury.
See United States v. Vera, 770 F.3d 1232, 1253 (9th
Cir. 2014) (Vera I). On remand, the district court
used evidence of questionable value in determining the drug
quantities attributable to each defendant, so we again vacate
and remand for resentencing.
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND