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United States v. Castenada

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Greeneville

November 7, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JAYSON CASTENADA

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. RONNIE GREER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This criminal case is before the Court on the defendant's motion for a sentence reduction, [Docs. 50 and 52]. In his 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 (“USSG”). The government has responded, [Doc. 53]. The matter is ripe for review. For the reasons that follow, the motion is DENIED.

         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 USSG § 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. 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).[1] 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 pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute oxycodone, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(C), and being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), [Docs. 24, 25, and 39]. As part of his 11(c)(1)(C) Plea Agreement, the defendant agreed that he was responsible for distributing 720mg of oxycodone and .26 grams of cocaine base, which combine and convert to a total marijuana equivalent of 5.75 kg, [Doc. 24, ¶ 4]. The parties originally stipulated that the appropriate sentence would be a 68-month term of imprisonment as to each count, to be served concurrently, followed by a three-year term of supervised release. [Doc. 24, ¶ 6].

         The probation officer used the stipulated drug quantity to calculate the guidelines range. Given the amount of drugs for which the defendant was held responsible, the defendant's base offense level was 14 for the drug conspiracy offense [Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) ¶ 20]. The officer applied a two-level enhancement because a dangerous weapon was possessed, resulting in an adjusted offense level of 16 for the drug offense, [Id. ¶¶ 21-25].

         Further, the officer calculated the adjusted offense level for the felon in possession of ammunition offense. With a base offense level of 20 and no applicable adjustments, the adjusted offense level for this offense was 20, [Id. ¶¶ 26-31].

         Thereafter, the officer applied the multiple count adjustment to the greater of the offense levels, adding two levels to the higher offense-the possession of ammunition offense-resulting in a combined adjusted offense level of 22, [PSR ¶¶ 32-35]. Three levels were subtracted for acceptance of responsibility, resulting in a total offense level of 19, [Id. ¶¶ 37-39].

         Given the defendant's criminal history category of VI, the defendant's applicable guideline range was 63 to 78 months' imprisonment, [Id. ¶ 106]. After the PSR was submitted but before the sentencing hearing, the parties entered an amendment to the original plea agreement, [Doc. 39]. This amendment replaced only paragraph 6 of the defendant's original plea agreement, and left the rest of the terms and conditions in effect, [Doc. 39]. This new paragraph also invoked Rule 11(c)(1)(C), but amended the agreed upon sentence to a term of 63 months as to each count, to be served concurrently, followed by three years of supervised release, [Doc. 39].

         The Court accepted the plea agreement with the amendment, and sentenced the defendant to 63 months' imprisonment pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C), [Doc. 48 PageID # 147]. The defendant is ...


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