In United States v. Boone, No. 22-11153 (Apr. 9, 2024) (Jordan, Lagoa, Hull), the Court affirmed Mr. Boone’s 840-month sentence.

Mr. Boone pleaded guilty to using a minor to produce child pornography, and distributing and possessing child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2251 and 2252A.  The PSR recommended applying a five-level increase pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.5(b) because (1) the offense was a covered sex crime and neither § 4B1.1 nor § 4B1.5(a) applied and (2) Mr. Boone “engaged in a pattern of activity involving prohibited sexual conduct.”  As explained in the PSR, the pattern-of-activity enhancement applied because Mr. Boone produced child sexual abuse material on at least two separate occasions.  With a criminal history category of I and a total offense level of 43, Mr. Boone’s advisory guidelines range was life imprisonment.  Because Mr. Boone’s statutory maximum sentences were 30 years for the production offense and 20 years for each of the two distribution and possession offenses, and because the statutory maximums were less than the advisory guidelines sentence of life, U.S.S.G. § 5G1.2 provided that the sentences “shall run consecutively,” which in turn yielded a total advisory guidelines sentence of 840 months.

On appeal, Mr. Boone argued that the district court erred by (1) applying U.S.S.G. § 4B1.5(b)(1)’s pattern-of-activity enhancement based on two or three images all involving the same victim at around the same time, and (2) considering his military service as an aggravating rather than a mitigating factor in determining his sentence.

The Court disagreed on both fronts.  With regard to the application of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.5(b)(1)’s pattern-of-activity enhancement, the Court found invited error because Mr. Boone–through trial counsel–noted agreement to the enhancement’s application.  Additionally, the Court found no procedural error in applying the enhancement.  The Court reiterated that as to § 4B1.5(b)(1), it has held that the enhancement applies if the defendant engaged in prohibited sexual conduct on at least two separate occasions, regardless of whether the crimes were committed against the same victim or different victims.  The Court also found no procedural error in the district court’s consideration of Mr. Boone’s military service as an aggravating factor, rather than a mitigating one.

Finally, the Court rejected Mr. Boone’s substantive reasonableness challenge.