FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT No. 1:17-CR-00082-ABJ-1
FOR THE DISTRICT OF WYOMING
William D. Lunn, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Defendant-Appellant.
J. Heimann, Assistant United States Attorney (Mark A.
Klaassen, United States Attorney, with him on the briefs),
District of Wyoming, Cheyenne, Wyoming, for
MATHESON, MURPHY, and CARSON, Circuit Judges.
MURPHY, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Michael Gonzales owned and operated Concrete Specialists,
Inc. in Cheyenne, Wyoming. As a side business, he sold
cocaine and methamphetamine. Gonzales used his personal and
business bank accounts to launder the proceeds of his drug
sales. After extensive investigations by state and federal
law enforcement, a federal grand jury charged Gonzales with
committing a multitude of drug and financial crimes. He
eventually agreed to plead guilty to ten of the fifty-four
counts set out in the indictment, specifically including
seven counts of concealment money laundering. See 18
U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i); see also United States v.
Majors, 196 F.3d 1206, 1211 (11th Cir. 1999) (noting
that § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) is "referred to as the
'concealment' . . . provision of the money laundering
statute."). On appeal, Gonzales asserts, for the first
time, that the guilty pleas underlying two of his money
laundering convictions, Counts 50 and 52, are not supported
by a sufficient factual basis. See Fed. R. Crim. P.
11(b)(3). This court rejects Gonzales's arguments at the
first step of plain-error review.See United States v.
Carillo, 860 F.3d 1293, 1300 (10th Cir. 2017) (holding
that to satisfy the plain error standard, the appellant must,
as the first step in a four-step journey, demonstrate the
district court committed an error). That is, we conclude the
district court did not err in finding that Gonzales's
guilty pleas to Counts 50 and 52 were supported by a
sufficient factual basis. The conduct Gonzales admitted as
part of his plea agreement and at the plea colloquy establish
the existence of every element of a violation of §
1956(a)(1)(B)(i) as to both relevant counts. Thus, exercising
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court
affirms the district court's judgment of conviction as to
Counts 50 and 52.
Standard of Review
asserts his concealment money laundering convictions for
Counts 50 and 52 are not, in violation of the dictates of
Rule 11(b)(3), supported by a sufficient factual basis.
"This court reviews alleged violations of Rule 11(b)
that were not objected to in the district court under the
exacting plain error standard." Carillo, 860
F.3d at 1300. To satisfy that exacting standard, Gonzales
must show "(1) an error; (2) the error is plain or
obvious; (3) the error affects the appellant's
substantial rights (i.e., the error was prejudicial and
affected the outcome of the proceedings); and (4) the error
seriously affects the fairness, integrity, or public
reputation of judicial proceedings." Id.
Gonzales's appeal can be easily resolved at the first
step of plain error review because his guilty pleas are
supported by an adequate factual basis.
entering judgment on a guilty plea, the court must determine
that there is a factual basis for the plea." Fed. R.
Crim. P. 11(b)(3). "To determine whether a factual basis
exists for the defendant's plea, the district court must
compare the conduct admitted or conceded by the defendant
with the elements of the charged offense to ensure the
admissions are factually sufficient to constitute the charged
crime." Carillo, 860 F.3d at 1305. The
statutory provision criminalizing concealment money
laundering provides, in relevant part, as follows:
Whoever, knowing that the property involved in a financial
transaction represents the proceeds of some form of unlawful
activity, conducts or attempts to conduct such a financial
transaction which in fact involves the proceeds of specified
unlawful activity . . . knowing that the transaction is
designed in whole or in part . . . to conceal or disguise the
nature, the location, the source, the ownership, or the
control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity . . .
shall be sentenced to a fine of not more than $500, 000 or
twice the value of the property involved in the transaction,
whichever is greater, or imprisonment for not more than
twenty years, or both.
18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(B)(i). Section 1956(a)(1)(B)(i)
contains the following four elements: (1) defendant
"engaged in a financial transaction"; (2) defendant
knew "the property involved in that transaction
represented the proceeds of his unlawful activities";
(3) "the property involved was in fact the proceeds of
that criminal enterprise"; and (4) defendant knew
"the transaction was designed in whole or in part to
conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the
ownership or the control of the proceeds of the specified
unlawful activities." United States v.
Garcia-Emanuel, 14 F.3d 1469, 1473 (10th Cir. 1994)