‘Professional convict’ gets 68 months shaved off sentence for gun charge

An Iowa man serving more than 15 years in federal prison on weapons charges saw his sentence reduced this week due to a 2016 Supreme Court decision.

In a court document filed Tuesday, Robert M. Hertz, 53, formerly of the Cedar Rapids area, was given a reduced sentence of 10 years imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. Hertz was serving 188 months in prison followed by five years of supervised release after pleading guilty to possessing a firearm and ammunition as a felon in 2016.

A member of an outlaw motorcycle gang, the Gypsy Jokers, Hertz had previously been convicted of three felonies — arson, burglary, and manufacturing methamphetamine — before he was arrested in 2015 with a .40-caliber rifle and 237 rounds of ammunition in his possession. Charged under the Armed Career Criminal Act, a 1984 rider signed by President Ronald Reagan that mandated a sentence of “not less than 15 years” for felons with three prior convictions of robbery or burglary found with guns, Hertz was given a reduction on the heels of a Supreme Court decision last year in the case of Mathis v. United States.

Mathis, decided by a 5-3 vote, upheld the 15-year mandatory sentence under ACA for armed criminals with three or more prior convictions “for a violent felony.”

Since two of Hertz’s three previous convictions did not qualify under the new guideline, the U.S. 8th Circuit in January agreed to a re-sentencing to step back from the mandatory minimum.

Hertz’s attorney, Michael M. Lindeman, sought 78-97 months, though provided no witnesses and Hertz himself elected not to attend the hearing.

The U.S. Attorney’s office appealed to the court in an April sentencing memo that a wide variety of other information be weighed in Hertz’s case, noting that his arson conviction stretched back to 1989 and that in addition to his conviction for making meth in 2001, he had violated probation at least five times after his 1996 conviction for burglary.

According to court documents, Hertz attempted to influence a witness in an investigation, provided false information to his probation officer, and made extensive comments on social media before his latest conviction that the court took to be “severe.” These included describing himself as a “professional convict,” making a pledge to kill a “brother’s” former spouse and “burry (sic) her deep,” that snitches should be harmed or killed, and expressing regret that a home he burned down did not result in the death of his ex-wife and new boyfriend. Hertz also reportedly was on the lookout for a sawed-off Mossberg shotgun before his current incarceration.

“Although none of these convictions or criminal conduct received criminal history points, they do reflect defendant’s incorrigibility and disrespect for the law,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard L. Murphy, asking for 10 years.

In the end, the court agreed with Murphy, and recommend Hertz learn a trade through the Bureau of Prison’s vocational training programs while serving his sentence.