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140524 - People v Peltola (Drew)

People of the State of Michigan,
Joel D. McGormley
(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)
(Dickinson – Celello, R.)
Drew James Peltola,
Jacqueline J. McCann


​On April 19, 2008, a confidential informant told a law enforcement drug team that heroin was being sold from a residence in Kingsford, Michigan. With money provided by law enforcement, the informant purchased $40 worth of heroin from the drug house; Drew Peltola, who was on parole for a drug charge, was one of several people involved in the sale. When Iron Mountain police stopped Peltola later that night, he had nearly $600 on his person, including the $40 from the informant. As police began arresting others involved in the heroin sale, the suspects began talking, and it became clear that Peltola and a friend were acting as the local distributers for a down-state heroin supplier.

A jury found Peltola guilty as charged of delivering less than 50 grams of heroin and conspiracy to deliver less than 50 grams of heroin. Peltola’s minimum sentence guideline range was calculated at five to 23 months; the statutory maximum for his crime was 20 years. Because this was Peltola’s second conviction for a drug crime, the judge doubled his minimum and maximum sentences pursuant to MCL 333.7413(2), and imposed concurrent sentences of to 46 months to 40 years for each conviction. The court stated that the sentence was not a departure from the guidelines.

Peltola appealed to the Court of Appeals. He argued in part that the trial court had improperly doubled both the minimum and maximum sentences under MCL 333.7413(2). While Peltola’s appeal was pending, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its decision in People v Lowe, 484 Mich 718 (2009). Lowe held that MCL 333.7413(2) authorizes the trial court to double both the minimum and maximum sentences when doubling a defendant’s term. The Court of Appeals affirmed Peltola’s convictions and sentences in an unpublished per curiam opinion, relying on Lowe to reject Peltola’s claim that the trial court improperly doubled the minimum sentence. Peltola then filed a motion for reconsideration, conceding that Lowe authorized the doubling of the minimum sentence, but arguing that Lowe also held that, when a minimum sentence is doubled under MCL 333.7413(2), the trial court should not score the prior record variables. Peltola points to a passage in the Lowe opinion stating that the legislature intended that, when MCL 333.7413(2) was at issue, the “minimum sentence guidelines range to be calculated without respect to the underlying offense’s repeat nature.” The Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration. Peltola appeals.