Argued: December 8, 2016
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Virginia, at Norfolk. Robert G. Doumar, Senior
District Judge. (2:13-cr-00131-RGD-LRL-1)
Frances H. Pratt, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER,
Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellant.
Richard Daniel Cooke, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY,
Richmond, Virginia, for Appellee.
C. Kamens, Federal Public Defender, Rodolfo Cejas, II,
Assistant Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL
PUBLIC DEFENDER, Alexandria, Virginia, for Appellant.
J. Boente, United States Attorney, Alexandria, Virginia,
William D. Muhr, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF
THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Norfolk, Virginia, for Appellee.
WILKINSON, SHEDD, and DUNCAN, Circuit Judges.
WILKINSON, Circuit Judge
Allen Spencer pleaded guilty to mailing a threatening letter
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 876(c). The district court
deviated upward from the advisory Guidelines range to account
for the threat's effect on the victim and imposed a
now contends that his sentence was procedurally and
substantively unreasonable. For the reasons that follow, we
September 12, 2013, the clerk's office of the federal
courthouse in Norfolk, Virginia received a letter from an
inmate at Chesapeake City Jail identified as "T.A.
Spencer." The letter was covered in white powder and
read, in part, as follows:
You never know when it can happen! The very letter you hold
may indeed be the last you hold. This letter may contain on
it what takes your last breath. Who knows? Only time will
tell. Good luck to you.
. . . .
Should you run? Should you stay? Who do you call to make
it all go away? Are you already infected with the pain? What
do you do? Is there anything to gain? Only time will tell.
J.A. 14-15. The clerk who opened the letter was
"disconcerted and afraid"; at the instruction of
the U.S. Marshals she locked herself alone - with the letter
- in the mailroom until inspectors arrived. J.A. 15. In the
course of the investigation, one inspector visited Spencer at
Chesapeake City Jail, where he admitted to sending the letter
and explained that the powder was dried toothpaste. He had
included the powder "to enhance the effect of the letter