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United States v. Langen

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division

September 5, 2019

LORI LANGEN, Defendant.



         Before the Court is Defendant Lori Langen's Amended Motion to Reduce Sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) Amendment 782 (eff. Nov. 1, 2014). d/e 39. Because Defendant's sentence was not "based on" an amended Guidelines range, Defendant's motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In June 2011, Defendant provided Crystal Krouse with methadone. Plea Agreement ¶ 28, d/e 12.[1]Ms. Krouse was later found dead in her bed as a result of methadone intoxication. Id. In August 2011, Defendant sold methadone to two confidential sources, both of whom were working with investigators with the Central Illinois Enforcement Group. Id. During the exchange, Defendant stated that she gave Ms. Krouse methadone. Id. Defendant was arrested on federal charges of distribution of a controlled substance on March 7, 2012. Crim. Compl. 1; Text Order, Mar. 7, 2012.

         When a defendant and the Government agree to a specific sentence that they feel is appropriate given the particular facts of the case, they may enter into a written plea agreement under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) ("11(c)(1)(C) agreement"). Hughes v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1765, 1769 (2018). The Government and Defendant entered into such an agreementon June 20, 2012. See Plea Agreement. In the agreement, Defendant pled guilty to three counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). Plea Agreement ¶¶ 3-4. While Defendant was not charged with Ms. Krouse's death, Defendant did concede in her 11(c)(1)(C) agreement "that the death of Crystal Krouse [was] a relevant factor" in determining the length of Defendant's sentence. Id. at ¶ 20. The 11 (c) (1) (C) agreement stated that Defendant and the Government agreed to a term of imprisonment of 120 months. Plea Agreement ¶ 6, d/e 12.

         At sentencing on December 3, 2012, Defendant's potential Guidelines range was calculated to be 12-18 months. Sent'gTr. 13:13-16, Dec. 3, 2012, d/e 36. Rather than imposing a sentence within that range, the Court accepted the 120-month sentence from the 11(c)(1)(C) agreement and Defendant was so sentenced. Id.

         The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) is required to periodically review and revise the Sentencing Guidelines. 28 U.S.C. § 994(o). If a defendant's original sentence was based on a Guidelines range that was lowered by the USSC, the defendant's sentence may be reduced accordingly. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The USSC adopted USSG Amendment 782 in November 2014, which reduced the sentencing base levels for most drug offenses by two levels. USSG App. C, Amend. 782 (Supp. Nov. 2012-Nov. 2016). The Amendment was later made retroactive to allow defendants sentenced under the higher levels to seek sentence reductions. Amend. 788; Hughes, 138 S.Ct. at 1774. The base levels for the offenses for which Defendant was convicted were included in Amendment 782.

         Defendant, therefore, filed her first pro se motion to reduce sentence on August 1, 2014, under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 782. Def.'s Mot. to Reduce Sentence, Aug. 1, 2014, d/e 26. Before receiving a ruling on the 2014 motion to reduce sentence, Defendant filed a motion for appointment of counsel on February 24, 2015, which was docketed as a second motion to reduce sentence. Mot. for Appointment of Counsel, Feb. 24, 2015, d/e 28. Those motions were denied on August 5, 2015. TextOrder, Aug. 5, 2015.

         In July 2018, Defendant filed another pro se Motion for Reduction of Sentence Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). d/e34. The Court appointed the Office of the Federal Public Defender to represent Defendant. Text Order, July 17, 2018. Appointed counsel subsequently filed the amended motion that is now before the Court. In her current motion to reduce sentence, Defendant asserts a new review of her motion is appropriate given the Supreme Court's decision in Hughes v. United States, in which the Supreme Court overruled the case law on which the Court's denial of Defendant's first motion was based. Def.'s Am. Mot. 4.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A defendant who enters an 11 (c) (1) (C) plea agreement may also have his sentence reduced if his original sentence was based on a Guidelines range subsequently lowered by the USSC. Hughes, 138 S.Ct. at 1776. Usually, defendants may only make one motion to reduce sentence per USSC Guidelines Amendment. United States v. Beard, 745 F.3d 288, 292 (7th Cir. 2017). However, Defendant's previous motion was reviewed using case law that has since been overruled. A new analysis of Defendant's motion is, therefore, appropriate. However, under the current case law Defendant's sentence is still not based on a retroactively amended Guidelines range. Consequently, Defendant is not eligible for a reduced sentence.

         A. A new analysis of Defendant's § 3582(c)(2) motion to reduce sentence is appropriate.

         Generally, a defendant may make one motion per retroactive amendment. United States v. Beard, 745 F.3d 288, 292 (7th Cir. 2017). If a defendant is unsatisfied with a court's decision on the motion to reduce sentence, the defendant's only recourse is a direct appeal. United States v. Goodwyn, 596 F.3d 233, 236 (4th Cir. 2010). Defendants may not, however, file additional motions. Id. Simply put, defendants usually only have one bite at the apple per retroactive Amendment. Beard, 745 F.3d at 292.

         However, when the Court first denied Defendant's § 3582(c)(2) motion, the Court relied on Freeman v. United States, 564 U.S. 522 (2011). Text Order, Aug. 5, 2015. In Freeman, the Supreme Court addressed whether 11(c)(1)(C) agreements were "based on" the Sentencing Guidelines for purposes of motions for sentence reductions under § 3582(c)(2). 564 U.S. at 525-26. Butno opinion in Freeman commanded a majority: a plurality opinion authored by Justice Kennedy was joined by three Justices, a dissent authored by ...

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