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United States v. Ingram

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee

June 16, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
KEVIN JASON INGRAM, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Thomas A. Varlan, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This criminal case is before the Court on the defendant's motion for a sentence reduction [Doc. 1670]. In the defendant's motion, the defendant requests that the Court resentence him pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and in accordance with Amendment 782 and Amendment 788 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual. The government has responded [Doc. 1682]. The government defers to the Court's discretion whether and to what extent to grant any such reduction, subject to the limitations of 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and section 1B1.10 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual.

         I. Standard of Review

         “Federal courts are forbidden, as a general matter, to modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed, but the rule of finality is subject to a few narrow exceptions.” Freeman v. United States, 131 S.Ct. 3685, 2690 (2011) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). One exception is identified in 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2):

[I]n the case of a defendant who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission . . ., the court may reduce the term of imprisonment, after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a) to the extent that they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.

         The United States Supreme Court has interpreted § 3582(c)(2) as setting forth two requirements for a sentence reduction. First, “the defendant [must] ha[ve] been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission[.]” United States v. Riley, 726 F.3d 756, 758 (6th Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Second, “such reduction [must be] consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). If the reviewing court determines that the defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction, then “[t]he court may then ‘consider whether the authorized reduction is warranted, either in whole or in part, according to the factors set forth in § 3553(a).'” United States v. Thompson, 714 F.3d 946, 949 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 826 (2010)).

         In determining whether a defendant has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission, the Court must first determine “the amended guideline range that would have been applicable to the defendant had the relevant amendment been in effect at the time of the initial sentencing.” Dillon, 560 U.S. at 827 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see also U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 1B1.10(b)(1). Other than substituting Amendment 782 for the corresponding provision applicable when the defendant was originally sentenced, the Court “shall leave all other guideline application decisions unaffected.” Id.

         And the Court “shall not” reduce a defendant's term of imprisonment to a term “less than the minimum of the amended guideline range, ” nor to a term “less than the term of imprisonment the defendant has already served.” Id. § 1B1.10(b)(2)(A), (C). Section 1B1.10 provides one exception to the rule that a defendant may not receive a sentence below the amended guideline range-namely, if the defendant originally received a below-guideline sentence “pursuant to a government motion to reflect the defendant's substantial assistance to authorities.” U.S. Sentencing Guidelines § 1B1.10(b)(2)(B). In such cases, the Court may grant “a reduction comparably less than the amended guideline range.” Id.

         In addition to these limits, section 1B1.10 states that a court must also consider the § 3553 factors and the danger to the public created by any reduction in a defendant's sentence. Id. at cmt. n.1(B). A court may further consider a defendant's post-sentencing conduct. Id.

         II. Factual Background

         The defendant was convicted of conspiring to manufacture at least five grams of methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B), and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) [Doc. 1317]. At the time of sentencing, the defendant was held responsible for 35 grams of methamphetamine [Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) ¶¶ 25, 41]. Given the amount of drugs for which the defendant was held responsible, the defendant's base offense level was 30 [Id.]. The defendant received a two-level enhancement for maintaining a residence for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine and a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility pursuant to section 3E1.1(a) and (b), which resulted in a total offense level of 29 [Id. ¶¶ 42, 48-50]. Given the defendant's criminal history category of I, the defendant's applicable guideline range was 87 to 108 months' imprisonment [Id. ¶¶ 56, 84]. The defendant was also subject to a consecutive statutory mandatory minimum of 60 months for the firearms offense [Id. ¶ 83].

         Before sentencing, the United States filed a motion for downward departure in light of the defendant's substantial assistance [Doc. 1317]. The Court granted that motion and sentenced the defendant to 123 months' imprisonment, consisting of 63 months for the drug offense, 28 percent below the guidelines range, followed by the statutory mandatory minimum of 60 months for the firearms offense [Id.]. According to the government, the defendant is presently scheduled for release on January 25, 2022 [Doc. 1682 p. 3].

         III. Analysis

         Amendment 782 to the Guidelines, which became effective on November 1, 2014, revised the Guidelines applicable to drug-trafficking offenses by reducing by two levels the offense levels assigned to the drug quantities described in section 2D1.1. U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual App. C, amend. 782. Amendment 782 also makes corresponding changes to section 2D1.11. Amendment 788, which became effective on November ...


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