You guys don’t make it easy. The rabbit hole nearly ate me alive. At issue is how people are sentenced after they are convicted of one or more crimes. This is about U.S. v. Matthew Raymond Hoover yet touches on a cert denial at the supreme court just a few weeks ago.

We read about the number of criminals that are being set free on a catch and release basis. This is happening in the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor looks at the person being charged and decides on what charges to bring. PoC in blue city, low charges, white cis, higher charges. The prosecutor looks at what the cops say they are charging the person with. He then decides what the actual charges will be.

Example, a white female, 85 years of age, no criminal history, walking in the people’s house taking pictures. Charged by the special investigator with unlawful entry and interfering with an official proceeding. The prosecutor, looking at the totality of the person, the person’s history, the charges brought to them by the special investigator, decides to charge her with all of the above as well as incitement. He tells the court that she is a flight risk.

Counter example, a black male, 19 years of age, two felony convictions, a long history of gang involvement, multiple charges of violence against person. The cops picked him up for stabbing a pregnant white woman, at the scene, with the bloody knife in his pocket. He has previously attempted to evade arrest when warrants were issued. Including out of state flight. The prosecutor charges him with illegal possession of a weapon recommends that he be released with no bail.

This is “prosecutorial discretion”. It means that when the suspect gets to court, the court will try him for illegal possession of a weapon. That’s it. The attempted murder will never be heard by the court.

This is not what this article is about.

This article is about what happens after the suspect is found guilty.

Early in our country’s history, Judges had a great deal of leeway regarding sentencing. The Judge could decide that a person was guilty and issue a death sentence. It didn’t matter what the actual crime was. The Judge could do that.

The judge could also decide that a murderer was “a good person” and just release them after they were found guilty. It was the case that there was really no lasting harm from being found guilty and released. You lost no rights just because you were guilty. You didn’t lose your right to keep and bear arms. Likewise, you didn’t lose your right to vote or hold office or anything else.

That is no longer the case. Just being found guilty of many crimes will cost you substantial rights.

The absolute power of the Judge led to abuses. It led to well-connected defendants getting off with very light sentences, while those that were not well-connected “had the book thrown at them.” The “cure” for this was “sentencing guidelines”.

Sentencing guidelines are used to determine the severity of the sentence.

This, in turn, is ripe for abuse. Whenever you have rules, there are people that will game them.

Years ago I was doing work for the government. I was an outside contractor. I had my own IP network and was going to use that network when I connected my office. I spoke to my contact at the installation, and they decided it would be better for me to use a subnet owned by them. We checked with all the right people and I had written permission, so we went forward.

A couple of years goes by, everything is good when I’m asked to attend a meeting with some of my government contacts. The FBI was there. They had a stack of intercepts of the data that went across that wire. That was in the clear. Nothing that was of any interest to them or me. It was just intimidation.

The investigator starts accusing me of stealing from the Government. Then he tells me that they have proof that I had this connection for the at least 12 months. The cost of an internet connection was at least $3000/month, and I was going to be charged with stealing $36,000 worth of services from the government.

This was before I was particularly paranoid about people like the FBI agent there in that room. They didn’t expect what happened next. I laughed at them. They didn’t understand and asked me to explain.

“A T1 connection costs around $750/month, not $3000. I didn’t have a T1 with the government, I had dial up. When I heard that you were upset about me doing what I was asked to do by my government contacts, I moved my service to a new provider.”

“Here’s the bill for the next 12 months.”

The total bill for that service was around $500. Much less than the levels to bring big charges. Their case evaporated.

I tell this story because the intention of the FBI was to get me in a big crime. They knew what was happening on day one. They could have said something then. It would have been so far under the charging limits that nothing would have happened.

They knew that wouldn’t make them any points, so they just waited, letting that meter run the price of things up. The result, they thought, was a big case. It got sunk.

Sentencing Guild Lines

Sentencing Table

The way this table works is on a point system. Each offense is assigned a point value. This is cross-referenced with points give for criminal history. The box at the intersection is the recommended time of imprisonment.—Annotated 2021 Chapter 5, United States Sentencing Commission, (last visited Aug. 11, 2023)

I have not done research into Hoover’s criminal history. I am going to assume that he has no criminal history, which puts him in category I with 0 or 1 criminal history points.

Nest, we have to determine his offenses. 1 Count of conspiracy to transfer unregistered machine gun conversion devices and 5 counts of transferring unregistered machine gun conversion devices.—United States v. Ervin, No. 3:21-cr-00022 (District Court, M.D. Florida)

We have to find the official offenses. Hoover was found guilty of 5 counts of violation of 26 U.S.C. §5851. This gives him 12 points. —189, United States Sentencing Commission, (last visited Aug. 11, 2023). IANAL. They only accused him of transferring one “conversion device” to each of 8 people.

If he had sold a dozen of these novelty items to one person, that would 2 more points to that particular count.

With just the transfer counts, Hoover is looking at 10 to 16 months for each count. 50 to 80 months in prison. Around 4 to 7 years for selling a picture of a lighting link.

Presentencing Report

The person who uses this table to make that determination is the judge. The judge does not have to figure it all out on his own, though. He can order a presentencing report. This report looks up the exact rules in the sentencing guidelines. It looks into the person to determine the type of person the convict is. It examines the convict’s history to make sure that they have all the information regarding criminal history.

All the sentencing guidelines have extra information regarding adjustments. There are adjustments for having a silencer. There are adjustments for who received the items. There are adjustments if the item is used in some other crime and what type of crime it is.

All of that information comes in this report.

The report also includes financial reports on the convict. The idea being that a person who has $5000 in the bank is going to feel a $100,000 fine a lot more than a person with $1,000,000 in the bank.

This report has boilerplate language in it. According to the Assistant US Attorney that is prosecuting this case:

Each of the PSRs warns on the third page that “[i]t is the policy of the federal judiciary and the Department of Justice that further redisclosure of the presentence investigation report is prohibited without the consent of the sentencing judge.” Doc. 294 at 3; Doc. 295 at 3.
United States v. Ervin, No. 3:21-cr-00022 (District Court, M.D. Florida)

It strikes me that the wording is “policy”. Again, IANAL,

Rule 32 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that the probation officer shall conduct a presentence investigation and submit a report to the Court at least seven days before the imposition of sentence, unless the Court finds that there is sufficient information in the record to enable the meaningful exercise of sentencing authority. The probation officer must conduct an investigation and submit a report if the law requires restitution.
— citation missing

§9-27.720 – Establishing Factual Basis for Sentence, discusses the presentence report. It does so from the perspective of the prosecutor. It tells the prosecutor what they must do:

Responding to Defense Assertions. Having read the presentence report before the sentencing hearing, the defendant or his/her attorney may dispute specific factual statements made therein. More likely, without directly challenging the accuracy of the report, the defense presentation at the hearing may omit reference to the derogatory information in the report while stressing any favorable information and drawing all inferences beneficial to the defendant. Some degree of selectivity in the defense presentation can reasonably be expected, and will be recognized by the court. There may be instances, however, in which the defense presentation, if not challenged, will leave the court with a mistaken view of the defendant or of the offense, because it is significantly different from that appearing in the presentence report. If this happens, the attorney for the government may respond by correcting factual errors in the defense presentation, pointing out facts and inferences ignored by the defense, and generally reinforcing the objective view of the defendant and his/her offense as expressed in the presentence report.
9-27.000 - Principles of Federal Prosecution § 720, (last visited Aug. 11, 2023)

This implies that the defense, Hoover in this case, has access to the report before it is seen in court.

Normally, when there are restrictions, they are in bold, easy to find. It seems to me that the state is reaching here.

Government busy-bodies often overstep their powers. It looks like this is one of those cases. The DoJ made up a policy, they applied it. The people that they apply it to don’t normally have millions of viewers/subscribers. They don’t have a voice, it doesn’t matter what they do or don’t do with the report.

The AUSA listened to two jailhouse calls from Hoover to Crump and Hoover to his wife.

On page 5, we finally get to the source of that warning. “Local Rule 3.11.”. Everything else is case law and restrictions on the courts, not on the defendant.

The restrictions on the defendant are a stretch. Local Rule 3.11 states that a lawyer directly or through a surrogate must not extrajudicially and publicly disclose” information including several categories of information that are contained in the PSR.

When I deal with the education industry, I’m frequently told that I can’t do something because it is against some rule, policy, or regulation. My answer has always been, “Show me the LAW, your policies do not apply to me.” Generally, it is about some sort of privacy rule that restricts the school administration.

Then we find the real reason:

Finally, the publication of non-final and non-public information about this case serves no legitimate purpose and rather appears to be aimed at generating vitriol against the undersigned and this Court with the intent to intimidate and obstruct these proceedings while generating views and profits for Hoover, Crump, and Hughes.
Miscellaneous Relief – #296 in United States v. Ervin (M.D. Fla., 3:21-cr-00022), No. 3:21-cr-00022, slip op. at 6

She gives some examples:

These videos prompted a deluge of inflammatory and threatening comments directed primarily to the undersigned and also to this Court, including:

  • “as long as there are no lethal consequences for that prosecutor, you can expect this to happen again and again” and a reply to that comment reading “That ‘persecutor’ having to deal with cancer is just the beginning of his [sic] karma. The whole matter is a travesty, and the evil pricks are loading up on bad karma big time… and they deserve every bit of it. Waiting for that ‘judge’ to get some bad news, too.”
  • “Be a shame if prosecutor’s cancer was complimented with Lead Poisoning. God speed suffering ends at terminal velocity.”
  • “I would hate to have the Karma that the Prosecutor has earned for herself. Then again I wouldn’t want her job, I enjoy sleeping at night.”
  • “Sounds like the prosecutor is getting punished for her evil.”
  • “Some times cancer can be [a] good thing.” With a reply: “the body’s side reaction to cancer treatment I would not wish on anyone….. but the likes of this EVIL prosecutor, an exception is granted.”
  • “’Prosecutor had to have cancer treatment.’ Couldn’t have happened to a more worthy girl. [dabbing emoji] Hope it’s pancreatic.” And a reply “Nah God willing its upgraded to terminal cancer” and another reply: “Hope it spreads.”
  • A comment to the effect that arresting Hoover was done to send a message, and a reply stating “Its [sic] a message that will get them killed.”
  • “Court system is really only good at breaking up the family unit” and a reply reading “Should’ve never gotten to that point. These men should’ve just started dropping cops.”
  • “I’m glad the prosecutor isn’t happy. In fact I hope cancer is happily doing it’s [sic] work.”
  • “He shouldn’t get any time at all. The judge and prosecutor should be locked up for their obvious lack of a brain and being a danger to society.”

Several of these comments that were left on Crump’s video were “liked” by Crump.
id. n. 2

It appears that Laura Cofer Taylor, Assistant United States Attorney, whose email and work numbers are available on court documents, is feeling a little butt hurt. The People don’t like her.

She blames the presentencing report, totally blind to the fact that The People are upset at her for bringing this bogus case. She knows it is bogus. Not only that, but she proved it in her recommended jury instructions. Those instructions would have told the Jury that it didn’t matter if the thing actually worked. The fact that the people buying the card thought it would work made it a machine gun conversion device.


By the time a hearing was held Friday, however, prosecutors had abandoned the talk of any order affecting who aren’t part of the case. That turned out to be a good choice, as the judge quickly said there was no basis for the order that had been suggested.

“I don’t think there’s any legal authority that would have supported that request,” Howard told Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Coolican in a hearing where she said Crump’s request to intervene was moot, as was a motion to file an amicus brief from an attorney representing other unnamed writers who follow gun-related subjects online and, the motion said, between them have more than 10 million subscribers.

Howard also chided Hoover for the fact that the report had gotten into circulation, saying he had shown no respect for rules of a justice system where he’ll still be sentenced.
Clay County man’s machine-gun prosecution becomes 1st Amendment fight, (last visited Aug. 12, 2023)


United States v. Ervin, No. 3:21-cr-00022 (District Court, M.D. Florida)
United States v. Ervin, No. 3:21-cr-00022 (District Court, M.D. Florida)
9-27.000 - Principles of Federal Prosecution, (last visited Aug. 11, 2023)
189, United States Sentencing Commission, (last visited Aug. 11, 2023)
Annotated 2021 Chapter 5, United States Sentencing Commission, (last visited Aug. 11, 2023)
Clay County man’s machine-gun prosecution becomes 1st Amendment fight, (last visited Aug. 12, 2023)
Spread the love

By awa

5 thoughts on “Policies are not laws”
  1. “You guys don’t make it easy. The rabbit hole nearly ate me alive.”
    Hey, you asked what we were wondering about… The idea of a carnivorous rabbit hole, by the way, sounds like it’s straight out of Monty Python. Have a good trip and don’t forget your coconuts. 🙂
    Seriously, thank you. Much appreciated.

  2. In addition to the case itself (Grrrrrr), I learned a lot about the process. VERY instructive. Thank you.

  3. The plaintiff’s inclusion of remarks made on Crumps YouHoo channel, and his supposed “likes” of those comments are FREE SPEECH. It’s called the FIRST AMENDMENT. None of them were threats. Vile, yes… but that’s our right.

    1. A small clarification. You are correct, the “Plaintiff” is the state in a criminal case. We normally call them the prosecution, or prosecutor.

  4. Thanks for covering hoover and Ervin, I don’t think they are getting the coverage they deserve writ large. I think many in the industry are afraid of atf retribution and don’t want to be forced to say that “in their opinion these novelty devices went too far or poked the bear too hard” then face even worse consumer retribution.
    I do not believe that. There is no way these meet the statutory definition of a machine gun or conversion device. These are essentially 0% firearms, ie just metal, and no different than the legally allowed sten tube with a template wrapped around it. They are being railroaded and I wouldn’t doubt if it was because of their very pro gun very anti atf opinions.
    Iirc hoover had a ffl and sot on top of it so I doubt there was any significant criminal history for him.

Comments are closed.