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U.S. v. LOGAN

January 28, 2004.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DARREN LOGAN



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MATHEW KENNELLY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Darren Logan pled guilty to a charge of possession of 4.2 grams of heroin with intent to distribute. His offense is unquestionably a serious one in view of the blight that illegal narcotics impose on our society, particularly on its weakest members. But in the overall spectrum of federal offenses, the Sentencing Guidelines place it at the lower end due to the relatively small quantity of heroin involved. If Mr. Logan had no criminal history, his sentencing range would be six to twelve months, in Zone B, which would permit a sentence of probation with home confinement or community confinement.

Mr. Logan, however, has a very significant criminal record. He is thirty-nine years old as of the date of sentencing. In 1982, at age sixteen, Mr. Logan was convicted of robbery as a juvenile and committed to the Illinois Youth Correctional Center. He was discharged at age eighteen. Ten months later, in March 1984, he committed an armed robbery and home invasion with several other young men, and in December 1984 he committed a residential burglary. He pled guilty to both charges in March 1985, at age twenty, and was sentenced to concurrent six year prison terms. He was paroled in November 1987. In July 1988, at age twenty-three, Mr. Logan was arrested for possession of a stolen motor vehicle. He pled guilty in December 1989 Page 2 and was sentenced to a five year prison term. He was paroled in October 1991, at age twenty-seven.

  In October 1993, at age twenty-nine, Mr. Logan committed an armed robbery to which he pled guilty in October 1994. He received a three and one-half year prison term. He received credit for time served while awaiting the disposition of the case, and he was paroled in December 1994, at age thirty. Six months later, he was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. He was found guilty of this offense in December 1995 and received a ten year prison term. He was paroled in March 2000, at age thirty-five.

  Mr. Logan was arrested for the present offense in January 2002, at age thirty-seven. He was observed by the police while apparently selling narcotics. The arresting officers observed several men approach Mr. Logan with whom a verbal altercation ensued. Mr. Logan pulled a gun, and the men ran away. When the officers approached Mr. Logan, he ran and dropped the gun. In his home, the officers found a scale and other items indicating that he had been selling narcotics. In addition to the heroin that is the subject of the charge, a small quantity (0.1 grams) of crack cocaine was recovered.

  Mr. Logan's criminal history is a direct result of his use of and addiction to narcotics. He began using alcohol and marijuana at age thirteen. He began using heroin at age fourteen and became a heroin addict, using it daily when it was available to him. He began using both powder and crack cocaine at age twenty-two and also used that substance daily. Mr. Logan received narcotics counseling in 1999 while incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections. But he relapsed into drug use following his release from prison.

  After Mr. Logan was charged in this case, as part of the conditions of his release, he Page 3 underwent narcotics counseling, including a methadone program. He discontinued the methadone program because he hoped to be free of all controlled substances and felt that the program's result would be to addict him to methadone.

  Mr. Logon was free from narcotics during most of the time his case was pending. But in the months before he pled guilty, his father passed away, his mother's health deteriorated significantly, and his long-time girlfriend was hospitalized for treatment of anxiety. Mr. Logan became overwhelmed by these events and returned to using drugs. In early March 2003, he was admitted to Gateway Center for intensive drug treatment. He successfully completed the Gateway program — the first time he had ever successfully completed a drug program on the "outside" — and continues to attend daily Narcotics Anonymous meetings and regular counseling. In addition, he has become a lead speaker at group counseling sessions. He has also participated as a speaker at regional conferences involving drug abuse prevention and treatment. Regular substance abuse testing performed by the Pretrial Services Office has confirmed that he has been substance-free since his entry into the Gateway program.

  Since his guilty plea, Mr. Logan has also become a deacon in his church. The pastor of the church and the head deacon spoke at the sentencing hearing. They reported that Mr. Logan works at the church as a drug and alcohol abuse counselor and has performed valuable services in counseling others who might otherwise follow the same path he did. Mr. Logan's girlfriend (who has been with him for three years) reported that he is a completely changed person since his successful completion of the Gateway program; that he has taken financial responsibility for children he fathered in a previous relationship; and that he has become very involved in and committed to his church. Page 4

  Mr. Logan also spoke at his sentencing. The Court has had the opportunity to observe and interact with Mr. Logan on numerous occasions in the twenty months since his arraignment. Given his criminal record and his history of narcotics use, the Court took a chance on Mr. Logan in releasing him on bail in May 2002. But though there have been a few bumps in the — road specifically Mr. Logan's brief relapse into drug use — all things considered, Mr. Logan performed admirably in the twenty months that he was free on bail. The Court is convinced of his sincerity when he states that he now has a completely different outlook toward life, and we are also convinced of his commitment to remain drug-free and a responsible member of society.

  As indicated earlier, if Mr. Logan had no criminal history, he would be facing a six to twelve month "Zone B" sentence for his offense. However, his criminal history category is VI, the highest level, due to his extensive prior record. An "ordinary" offender in category VI being sentenced for Mr. Logan's crime would be subject to a sentencing range of twenty-four to thirty months. Mr. Logan, however, qualifies as a "career offender" under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 due to his 1985 conviction (nearly nineteen years ago) for residential burglary and his 1994 conviction (just over eight years ago) for armed robbery. As such, his offense level is increased to level twenty-nine pursuant to Guideline § 4B1.1. With credit for acceptance of responsibility, the sentencing range is 151 to 188 months (twelve and one-half to fifteen and one-half years).

  Mr. Logan moved for a downward departure on several grounds, including, primarily, the contention that his criminal history category and career offender status significantly over-represent the likelihood that he will commit further crimes, and the contention that he has shown an extraordinary level of post-offense rehabilitation. When this motion was first presented, Mr. Logan had been drug-free for just over four months, and the government correctly noted that it Page 5 was too early to tell whether he would remain drug-free. The Court continued the sentencing for approximately six months. By the time of resentencing, Mr. Logan had been drug-free, as confirmed by frequent substance abuse testing, for more than ten months and had also been employed at his church for a significant period. After hearing further argument, the Court granted the motion for downward departure. The purpose of this Memorandum Opinion is to elaborate upon the reasons for the Court's decision.

  Section 4A1.3 of the Sentencing Guidelines (prior to recent amendments that the parties agree do not apply to Mr. Logan's case) provides that "[i]f reliable information indicates that the criminal history category does not adequately reflect the seriousness of the defendant's past. criminal conduct or the likelihood that the defendant will commit other crimes, the court may consider imposing a sentence departing from the otherwise applicable guideline range." U.S.S.G. § 4A1.3. This provision further states that "[t]here may be cases where the court concludes that a defendant's criminal history significantly over-represents the seriousness of a defendant's criminal history or the likelihood that the defendant will commit further crimes." Id.

  Mr. Logan's criminal history category of VI most emphatically does not over-represent the seriousness of his criminal past. He has an aggravated prior criminal record that involved serious offenses, some of which involved violence or at least the threat of violence. Mr. Logan's past reflects a deplorable indifference to the safety and rights of others. But the Court is convinced that as Mr. Logan stands before the Court today, at age thirty-nine, his criminal history category of VI and his "career ...


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