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Court: More prison time OK in resentencing after appeal win

July 17, 2021 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — A federal court has denied an appeal for a man who got one of his convictions overturned in an Arizona migrant-smuggling case but then was resentenced to a longer prison term than he’d faced before.

The 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals ruled Friday that Rufino Valdez-Lopez provided no proof that the judge who resentenced Valdez-Lopez acted vindictively by imposing prison sentences adding up to 25 years, up from the 20 years imposed by the original sentencing judge who’d since retired.

Valdez-Lopez and other smugglers in 2007 held 75 migrants hostage in a house in metro Phoenix and threatened them with an AK-47 rifle, the ruling said.

Valdez-Lopez had argued that the resentencing judge acted vindictively because Valdez-Lopez had succeeded in having one of his convictions overturned.

The resentencing judge had said he presumed he had the same information that the first judge had but believed Valdez-Lopez deserved a significant sentence because his conduct was “incredibly outrageous” and impacted numerous victims, the ruling said.