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United States v. Cooper

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

July 31, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ADRIAN LEVETTE COOPER, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          J. PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the defendant's agreed motion for a reduction of his criminal sentence following the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. 111-220; §§ 2-3, 124 Stat. 2372, 2372 (2010), as set forth in the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, § 404, 132 Stat. 5194, 5222 (2018) (Doc. 117). He asks the Court to reduce his sentence of imprisonment from life to 360 months. The Court construes this as a motion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B). The Government is in agreement with the motion.

         In July 1993, the defendant was found guilty by a jury of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a) and 846. Because the Government filed an information pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851 alleging at least two prior drug felonies, the statutory sentencing range for this offense as charged was ten years to life in prison. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B). At sentencing, the Court adopted the presentence investigation report's relevant conduct finding of 150 to 500 grams of cocaine base. In light of this finding, and because the defendant was sentenced before Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), [1] and Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013), [2] the Court found the defendant was subject to a statutory mandatory life sentence. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A).

         As for the defendant's sentencing guideline range, the Court used the 1992 version of the United States Sentencing Guideline Manual. The Court found the base offense level under U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c)(5) for the defendant's relevant conduct was 34. It increased that level by two points pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(1) because he possessed a dangerous weapon and by two points pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(c) because he was an organizer and leader in the offense, yielding a total offense level of 38. The Court further found that the defendant was a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. Because the statutory maximum sentence for the defendant's offense of conviction was life, the base offense level applicable under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 was 37. Because the total offense level based on U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1 was greater than the total offense level based on U.S.S.G. 4B1.1, the Court applied the total offense level based on U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1. Considering the defendant's criminal history category of VI, established by his career offender status under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 and his criminal history points, the sentencing table in U.S.S.G. Chapter 5, Part A, yielded a sentencing range of 360 months to life in prison. The Court imposed the statutory mandatory sentence of life in prison without a term of supervised release.

         The defendant now asks the Court to reduce his sentence in light of § 404 of the First Step Act.[3] Section 404 allows the Court to reduce a defendant's sentence for a crack cocaine offense, but only if the Court had imposed that sentence before another statute-the Fair Sentencing Act-lowered the statutory sentencing range for that crack cocaine offense. First Step Act, § 404(b). In essence, the First Step Act retroactively applies the Fair Sentencing Act's lower statutory sentencing ranges and allows the Court to bring past sentences into line with the lower ranges. The authority to reduce a sentence applies only to (1) federal offenses (2) committed before August 3, 2010, the effective date of the Fair Sentencing Act, (3) for which the Fair Sentencing Act changed the statutory penalty range, i.e., certain crack cocaine offenses.

         See First Step Act, § 404(a). Whether to reduce a sentence is at the discretion of the Court and is not required by the First Step Act. First Step Act, § 404(c). In sum, the Court now may, but is not required to, reduce a defendant's sentence if application of a statutory range changed by the Fair Sentencing Act would have resulted in a sentence lower than the defendant's original sentence.[4]

         The Court turns to the specifics of the defendant's case. The defendant's conviction is the type of conviction covered by § 404 of the First Step Act. He committed the federal offense before August 3, 2010, and the Fair Sentencing Act modified the applicable statutory sentencing range. As noted above, at the time of the defendant's conviction, the statutory range was mandatory life for a drug offense where the sentence was driven by 150 grams of cocaine base relevant conduct and where the defendant had two prior drug felonies. 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(A) & 851 (1993). Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act lowered the statutory range for such an offense to ten years to life in prison. 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(B) & 851 (2010).[5]

         Thus, the defendant's conviction is subject to reduction under the First Step Act. He asks for a sentence of 360 months, which would effectively translate to a sentence of time served, and the Government does not object.

         Having considered the factors listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), the Court exercises its discretion to reduce the defendant's sentence but not to the extent he requests. As for §3553(a)(4), the applicable sentencing guideline range, had the defendant been sentenced in 1993 for a drug offense where the relevant conduct was 150 grams of cocaine base, his base offense level, retroactively affected by Amendment 782 to the U.S.S.G., his base offense level would have been 26, see U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c)(7), increased by the applicable enhancements to 30. His career offender base offense level would have stayed the same-37-since his statutory maximum sentence would still have been life, so it would have taken over as the driver of his offense level. See U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1. At ¶ 37/VI, his guideline sentencing range would have remained 360 months to life in prison. The Court addressed the other § 3353(a) factors as explained on the record at the July 31, 2019, hearing. It has further addressed the defendant's lack of objection to a term of supervised release to follow his imprisonment. In light of all these factors, the Court will reduce the defendant's sentence from life in prison to 410 months in prison plus a term of supervised release of 8 years on the conditions set forth at the July 31, 2019, hearing.

         For the foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS the defendant's motion for a sentence reduction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B) based on the First Step Act's retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act (Doc. 117) and DENIES as moot the defendant's pro se motion (Doc. 106). The Court will enter a separate order for a reduction of sentence in its standard form.

         IT IS SO ORDERED.

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Notes:

[1] Apprendi held that any sentencing factor other than criminal history may raise the statutory maximum sentence only if it was admitted by the defendant or found by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. at 490. Until Apprendi, a defendant's relevant conduct found by a court by a preponderance of the evidence was used to increase the statutory maximum sentence to which the ...


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