Thursday, April 07, 2016

How Many § 924(c) Convictions Apply if a Defendant Engaged in One Firearm Act While Committing Multiple Simultaneous Conspiracies?

During the summer of 2011, Manila Vichitvongsa executed two violent robberies in the course of two weeks.  He was indicted with two counts of conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robbery [18 U.S.C. § 1951]; two counts of brandishing/discharging a firearm during the conspiracy to commit the Hobbs Act robbery [18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)]; two counts of conspiracy with intent to distribute controlled substances [21 U.S.C. § 846]; and two counts of brandishing/discharging a firearm while drug trafficking [18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)]. 

Vichitvongsa took the matter to trial and was convicted on all eight counts.  Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A),(C),and (D), his first § 924(c) was subject to the 84 month statutory minimum and the remaining three 924(c) convictions were subject to a statutory minimum of 300 months, each to run consecutively.   He was sentenced to 1,219 months of imprisonment. 

On appeal, the Sixth Circuit held in United States v. Vichitvongsa, (14-6013/15-5037)  that taking one affirmative firearm act (brandishing a handgun) while simultaneously committing two predicate offenses (conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robbery and to traffic drugs)does not support two § 924(c) convictions.   Thus, the Court vacated two of the four 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) convictions. 

The other issues addressed by the defendant included a challenge to  “the sufficiency of the evidence supporting an interstate nexus to sustain his Hobbs Act convictions; whether his multiple conspiracy convictions violate double jeopardy; and the reasonableness of his 1,219 month sentence.”  The Sixth Circuit affirmed the rulings of the district court on these three issues.

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