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United States v. Johnson

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

June 24, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
SEDGWICK JOHNSON

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HARRY D. LEINENWEBER, JUDGE

         For the reasons stated herein, Sedgwick Johnson's Motion to Reduce Sentence Under the First Step Act (Dkt. No. 237) is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On July 26, 2001, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Johnson and his co-defendants Kalonji McMillian and Raymond Cooper with: (1) one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of a mixture containing cocaine base ("crack cocaine") and more than 500 grams of a mixture containing cocaine ("powder cocaine"), in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846; (2) one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of powder cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a) (1); and (3) one count of possession with intent to distribute more than 50 grams of crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a) (1) . The case against Johnson and his co-defendants proceeded to trial by jury on October 15, 2002.

         On October 22, 2002, the jury found Johnson guilty on all three charges. Pursuant to count one, the jury made a specific finding that Johnson had participated in the distribution of more than 50 grams of crack cocaine and more than 500 grams of powder cocaine.

         Johnson was sentenced on January 30, 2003. The sentencing court found Johnson to be a "career offender" under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines §§ 4B1.1 and 4B1.2, and calculated his criminal history category as VI and his total offense level as 37. The court sentenced Johnson to a 360-month term of imprisonment on all three counts (which was the low end of the then-applicable guidelines range of 360 months to life), to run concurrently with each other. The court also sentenced Johnson to five years of supervised release on counts one and three, and four years of supervised release on count two, to run concurrently with each other. To date, Johnson has served approximately 216 months of his sentence.

         Johnson now moves this Court for a reduced sentence under Section 404 of the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132 Stat. 5194 (2018) ("the First Step Act"), and Sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372 (2010) ("the Fair Sentencing Act"). Johnson requests that the Court reduce his 360-month sentence for distribution of crack cocaine to a 262-month sentence-the low end of the currently applicable guidelines range.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The First Step Act effectively makes the provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act, passed in 2010, retroactive. Section 404 of the First Step Act states, in relevant part:

(a) DEFINTION OF COVERED OFFENSE. In this section, the term "covered offense" means 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.
(b) DEFENDANTS PREVIOUSLY SENTENCED. A court that imposed a sentence for a covered offense may, on motion of the defendant, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, the attorney for the Government, or the court, impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 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.

PL 115-391. Relief under the First Step Act is discretionary. Id. § 404(c) ("Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a court to reduce any sentence pursuant to this section.")

         A. Covered Offense

         The First Step Act limits eligibility to "covered offenses." See PL 115-391 § 404. When Johnson was charged, tried, and sentenced, the statutory sentence for possession with an intent to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine was ten years to life. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) (2003). The Fair Sentencing Act raised the amount of crack cocaine that triggered that statutory sentence from 50 grams to 280 grams. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) (2019). The Fair Sentencing Act set the statutory penalty for more than 28 but less than 280 grams of crack cocaine as between five- and 40-years' imprisonment. 21 U.S.C. § 841 (b) (1) (B) (iii) (2019). Therefore, Johnson argues, the ...


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