United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Rubén Castillo Judge, United States District Court
the Court is Roderick Wright's motion for a reduced
sentence under the First Step Act of 2018. (R. 128,
Def.'s Mot.) For the reasons that follow, the motion is
April 8, 2003, a grand jury returned an indictment charging
Roderick Wright (“Wright”) with violations of 21
U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1). (R. 1, Indictment.) On
January 22, 2004, Wright pleaded guilty to the first count of
the indictment, conspiracy to possess with intent to
distribute in excess of 50 grams of crack cocaine. (R. 55,
Plea Agreement.) As part of his plea, Wright admitted his
participation in certain drug transactions that involved
approximately 286 grams of crack cocaine. (Id. at
2-4.) Wright also admitted, as relevant conduct, facilitating
the sale of more than 500 grams but less than 1.5 kilograms
of crack cocaine in the years leading up to the period of the
charged conspiracy. (Id. at 4-5.)
29, 2005, Wright was sentenced to a term of 292 months'
imprisonment, which was the bottom of the then-mandatory
Guidelines range. (R. 76, Judgment.) At sentencing, Judge
Coar adopted the calculations in the presentence
report-namely, that Wright's offense level was 38, with a
three-point reduction to 35 for acceptance of responsibility,
and that his criminal history was VI, which had yielded a
sentencing range of 292 to 365 months. (R. 106, Sentencing
Tr. at 12, 16-18.) In 2009, Wright moved for a reduction in
his sentence based on Amendment 711 to the U.S. Sentencing
Guidelines, which had reduced his base offense level by two
levels. (R. 92 and 96, Def's 18 U.S.C. § 3582 Mot.)
The Government did not oppose Wright's motion. (R. 98,
Gov't Resp. Def's 18 U.S.C. § 3582 Mot.) The
offense level under the career offender guideline (34 after
acceptance of responsibility) was now higher than the revised
offense level under Chapters Two and Three, so Wright's
total offense level became 34. See U.S.S.G. §
4B1.1(b). Judge Coar reduced Wright's sentence to 262
months' imprisonment, again the bottom end of the revised
Guidelines range. (R. 100, May 11, 2009 Order.)
Judge Coar retired, Wright's case was reassigned to this
Court. Thereafter, Wright moved twice to reduce his sentence
under amendments that further reduced the base offense levels
for the amount of crack cocaine to which he had admitted. (R.
109, 110, 120, Def.'s Reduction Mots.) The Government
opposed both motions on the basis of Wright's career
offender status, and both motions were denied. (R. 113, Jan.
28, 2014 Order; R. 127, Feb. 7, 2017 Order.).
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”). Wright requests that the Court reduce his
262-month sentence to a sentence of time served since the low
end of the guidelines he says should apply is more than the
194 months' imprisonment that he has already served. (R.
128, Def.'s Mot. at 1-2, 6; R. 132, Def.'s Reply.)
The Government opposes the motion on the sole basis that the
Fair Sentencing Act would not have reduced the statutory
maximum penalty of life that Wright faced because he admitted
in his plea agreement that the offense involved more than the
revised threshold amount of 280 grams of cocaine base. (R.
131, Gov't Resp. at 6-9.)
First Step Act, passed in December 2018, effectively makes
the provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act, passed in 2010,
retroactive. First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132
Stat. 5194 (2018). Section 404 of the First Step Act provides
in pertinent part:
(a) DEFINITION 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.
Id. § 404. Thus, under the First Step Act, a
defendant who committed a violation before August 3, 2010,
and whose sentencing exposure would have been different under
the revised quantity thresholds for cocaine base set out in
Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act may be entitled to a
reduced sentence. Id. 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
time Wright was convicted and sentenced, the statutory
sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute
in excess of 50 grams of crack cocaine was ten years to life.
21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(A) (2005). The Fair
Sentencing Act raised the amount of crack cocaine that
triggered that statutory sentence from 50 grams to 280 grams.
Fair Sentencing Act, Pub. L. No. 111-220 §§ 2-3,
124 Stat. 2372. It set the statutory penalty for more than 28
but less than 280 grams of crack cocaine as between five and
40-years' imprisonment. Id. Therefore, Wright
argues, the Fair Sentencing Act modified the ...