United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee
RONNIE GREER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
criminal matter is before the Court to address the
defendant's March 25, 2019 Motion for Imposition of a
Reduced Sentence Pursuant to Section 404 of the First Step
Act. [Doc. 355]. The government responded, [Doc. 358],
deferring to the Court's discretion whether and to what
extent to grant any such reduction. The matter is now ripe
October 2007, the defendant pled guilty to Count Two of the
superseding indictment charging a violation of 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A) and 846, conspiracy to
distribute, and possession with the intent to distribute, 50
grams or more of cocaine base (crack). [See Docs.
188, 295]. At the April 14, 2008 sentencing, the Court found
that the offense involved 182.7 grams of crack cocaine.
[Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) ¶ 10]. Because
the defendant had two prior federal drug convictions, he
faced an enhanced statutory penalty of a mandatory minimum
sentence of life imprisonment. [PSR ¶¶ 14, 26; Doc.
three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, the
defendant's total offense level was 34 and his criminal
history category was VI. [PSR ¶ 28]. This yielded an
advisory sentencing guideline range of 262 to 360 months'
imprisonment, but restricted by the enhanced mandatory
minimum of life imprisonment. [Id. at ¶¶
41-42; 53-54]; See U.S.S.G. 4B1.1(b).
government moved for downward departure based on
defendant's substantial assistance, [Doc. 295], the Court
granted the government's motion and imposed 292
months' imprisonment and a ten-year term of supervised
release following his release. [Doc. 295]. According to the
parties, defendant has now served roughly 145 months in
custody on his sentence.
August 3, 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L.
111-220, went into effect. Section 2 of the Act increased the
quantity of cocaine base required to trigger the enhanced
penalties of Section 841. Specifically, it raised the
(b)(1)(A) threshold from “50 grams” to “280
grams” and the (b)(1)(B) threshold from “5
grams” to “28 grams.” Section 3 eliminated
the mandatory minimum for simple possession of cocaine base
under 21 U.S.C. § 844(a). Congress did not apply these
changes retroactively to defendants sentenced before the
Act's passage. Accordingly, the defendant could not
obtain relief under the Fair Sentencing Act.
December 21, 2018, the President signed the First Step Act of
2018, Pub. L. 115-391, into law. Section 404 of the Act gives
retroactive effect to the changes made by Sections 2 and 3 of
the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. Section 404(a) defines a
“covered offense” as “a violation of a
Federal criminal statute, the statutory penalties for which
were modified by section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of
2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372), that was committed
before August 3, 2010.” Section 404(b) then provides
that “[a] court that imposed a sentence for a covered
offense may . . . impose a reduced sentence as if Section 2
or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220;
124 Stat. 2372) were in effect at the time the covered
offense was committed.”
defendant is eligible for relief under the First Step Act
because he was convicted of a “covered offense”
under Section 404(a)'s definition. His offense was
committed before August 3, 2010; he was subject to the
enhanced statutory penalties under § 841(b)(1)(B); and
those statutory penalties were “modified by Section 2 .
. . of the Fair Sentencing Act.” Because the defendant
is eligible for relief, this Court has the discretion under
404(b) to “to impose a reduced sentence” in
accordance with § 841(b)(1)(C)'s statutory
penalties, which provide no mandatory minimum term of
incarceration and a thirty-year maximum term.
the Sentencing Guidelines as they existed at the time of the
Defendant's sentencing, but modifying any calculation of
the offense level as though Section 2 and 3 of the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010 were in effect at the time the
defendant committed the offense, defendant's total
offense level would remain at 37 minus three levels for
acceptance of responsibility. See U.S.S.G. 4B1.1(b).
However, based thereon, defendant's guideline range
remains from 262 to 360 months, calculated as life
imprisonment but without the mandatory minimum life sentence
as approximated as 360 months. See U.S.S.G. §
5A (sentencing table for an offense level 34 and criminal
history category of VI). This Court previously sentenced the
defendant to 292 months, at the lower end of his guidelines
range. To this date, the Court has been advised that
defendant has served 145 months of imprisonment and has a
projected release date of September 17, 2028.
defendant's sentence has not been previously reduced by
the operation of Sections 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act
of 2010, and no previous motion has been made by the
defendant pursuant to Section 404 of the First Step Act of
2018. See [Doc. 327].
these reasons, the Court concludes that the defendant is
eligible for relief in the form of a reduced sentence
pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018 and 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(1)(B) (permitting the court to modify a sentence
“to the extent otherwise expressly permitted by
the Court must determine, in its discretion, whether the
defendant is deserving of such a reduction. Defendant argues
a sentence of 213 months is appropriate, as it reflects an
18.89 percent reduction of his new guideline range of 262 to
327 months. [Doc. 355]. Defendant maintains an 18.89 percent
reduction is appropriate as he ...