The defendant argued that the district court improperly participated in the negotiation and acceptance of his plea bargain (reviewed for plain error), but the court found that the trial judge had inquired about the status of the plea negotiations (and indicated its willingness to start jury selection). Something strange went on, where there was “…further discussion regarding attorney's fees, the district court expressed concern over the amount of fees Uribe had paid, stated that it was going to discuss the matter with the trial judge…”
Finally, the court held that there was no abuse of discretion in imposing a $15,000 fine, as apparently it thought that the defendant had the money, and the defendant didn’t attempt to show that he didn’t have the money. See U.S.S.G. § 5E1.2(a), "[t]he court shall impose a fine in all cases, except where the defendant establishes that he is unable to pay and is not likely to become able to pay any fine." "[T]he defendant bears the burden of demonstrating that his . . . case warrants an exception to the rule that a fine be imposed."