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United States v. Coppenger

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

January 7, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JACK COPPENGER, JR., Defendant-Appellant

Argued,  December 4, 2014

Page 800

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio at Akron. No. 5:12-cr-00278-1--John R. Adams, District Judge.

ARGUED:

Evan B. Smith, APPALACHIAN CITIZENS' LAW CENTER, Whitesburg, Kentucky, for Appellant.

Daniel R. Ranke, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Evan B. Smith, APPALACHIAN CITIZENS' LAW CENTER, Whitesburg, Kentucky, for Appellant.

Daniel R. Ranke, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Cleveland, Ohio, for Appellee.

Jack Coppenger, Lisbon, Ohio, Pro se.

Before: SILER, SUTTON, and McKEAGUE, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 801

McKEAGUE, Circuit Judge.

Defendant Jack Coppenger, Jr., pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mortgage fraud. Pursuant to the parties' plea agreement, the government agreed not to recommend a sentence in excess of the applicable advisory Guidelines range, which was 78 to 97 months' imprisonment. Nonetheless, the district court used information in presentence reports prepared for Coppenger's co-conspirators to vary upward and sentenced Coppenger to 120 months in prison. Coppenger contends the sentence is substantively and procedurally unreasonable. He asserts two claims of error: the district court impermissibly treated co-conspirators as victims; and the district court failed to provide him with notice and opportunity to respond to its intent to vary upward based on information contained in co-conspirators' presentence reports. Because the district court abused its discretion when it failed to provide Coppenger meaningful opportunity to respond to information used to vary upward, we vacate and remand for resentencing.

I

In 2005, Coppenger initiated a mortgage fraud scheme to profit from buying and selling millions of dollars' worth of real estate by submitting false information to federally insured lenders. The " manner and means" of the scheme are detailed in Coppenger's plea agreement. To begin, Coppenger entered into a $13,200,000 contract to purchase two parcels of property in Panama City, Florida. To finance the purchase, Coppenger conspired with three mortgage officers and thirty-three " straw buyers." The straw buyers applied for mortgages on lots within one of Coppenger's Panama City parcels; falsely claimed they intended to use the lots as their secondary residences; falsely claimed that down payments were made; falsely claimed that they would be personally responsible for making monthly mortgage payments; received approval for the mortgages; and delivered mortgage proceeds to Coppenger. The mortgage officers worked with Coppenger to make monthly ...


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