United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT DISTRICT JUDGE
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.
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),
Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013),
Court found the defendant was subject to a statutory
mandatory life sentence. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A).
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.
defendant now asks the Court to reduce his sentence in light
of § 404 of the First Step Act. 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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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.
IS SO ORDERED.
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 ...