United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
L. WOOTEN, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant's motion for a
sentence reduction pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018,
passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on
December 21, 2018. Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132 Stat. 5194. This
law contains sentencing provisions that apply retroactively
to certain defendants previously sentenced.
pled guilty to a charge of Conspiracy to Possess With Intent
to Distribute 50 Grams or More of Cocaine Base, in violation
of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(iii), and
846. After taking into account the § 851 Information
that the Government previously filed, his statutory
sentencing range was 20 years to Life, followed by at least
10 years of supervised release. PSR ¶¶ 51, 55. His
Guidelines range at sentencing-after taking into account his
classification as a career offender-was 262-327 months
(34/VI), followed by 10 years of supervised release. PSR
¶¶ 52, 58. Pursuant to the parties' Rule
11(c)(1)(C) agreement, the Court imposed a 240-month term of
imprisonment, followed by a 10-year term of supervised
release. ECF No. 36.
404(b) of the First Step Act provides that “[a] court
that imposed a sentence for a covered offense may . . .
impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010 . . . were in effect at the time the
covered offense was committed.” Section 404(a) defines
“covered offense” as “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 . . ., that was committed before August 3, 2010.”
As noted above, Count 1 charged him, in part, with violating
21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(iii).
Section 2(a) of the Fair Sentencing Act modified the
statutory penalties set forth in 21 U.S.C. §
841(b)(1)(A)(iii) by increasing the threshold amounts of
crack from 50 grams to 280 grams. Because Defendant is
serving a sentence for a pre-August 3, 2010 violation of
§ 841(b)(1)(A)(iii), he is eligible for a sentence
reduction under § 404(b) of the First Step Act. See
United States v. Wirsing, 943 F.3d 175, 185 (4th Cir.
2019). The fact that he was ultimately sentenced pursuant to
a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) agreement is not relevant to the
eligibility question, as Wirsing makes clear that
eligibility depends solely on the offense of conviction.
See Id. (“[A]ny inmate serving a sentence for
pre-August 3, 2010 violations of 21 U.S.C. §
841(b)(1)(A)(iii) or (B)(iii)-both of which were modified by
Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act-is serving ‘a
sentence for a covered offense' and may seek a sentence
reduction under the First Step Act.” (citations
light of the First Step Act and as set forth in the Sentence
Reduction Report, the Court concludes that Defendant is now
subject to a reduced statutory sentencing range. As to Count
1, the custody term has been reduced from 20 years-to-Life to
10 years-to-Life, and the supervised release term has been
reduced from at least 10 years to at least 8 years.
See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(iii) (setting
forth the current penalties for a defendant who is convicted
of possessing with intent to distribute at least 28 grams but
less than 280 grams of crack). His Guidelines range is
262-327 months imprisonment (34/VI), followed by 8 years of
Defendant's motion, he requests a full resentencing
hearing in which he would seek to challenge the continued
validity of his career offender designation. See ECF
No. 60 at 1. The Government argues that he is not entitled to
a full resentencing. See ECF No. 63 at 4-6.
Currie has recently considered this question and concluded
that a First Step Act defendant is not entitled to a full
resentencing. United States v. Shelton, No. 3:07-329
(CMC), 2019 WL 1598921, at *2-3 (D.S.C. Apr. 15, 2019). The
Court notes Judge Currie's thorough, well-reasoned
opinion and adopts her analysis of the applicable law in this
case. Thus, the Court concludes that although Defendant is
eligible for a sentence reduction, he is not entitled to a
full resentencing. See also Wirsing, 943 F.3d at 181
n.1 (“Defendant does not contest that his relief, if
any, will be in the form of a limited sentence modification
rather than a plenary resentencing.”).
Defendant is eligible for a sentence reduction, a reduction
is not automatic. Section 404(c) of the First Step Act
explicitly provides that “[n]othing in this section
shall be construed to require a court to reduce any sentence
pursuant to this section.”
Government opposes a reduction in his imprisonment term,
arguing that his current sentence of 240 months is still
below his post-First Step Act Guidelines range, which remains
262-327 months. ECF No. 63 at 4. However, the Government
agrees that, notwithstanding its position on eligibility, he
would otherwise qualify for a reduction in his term of
supervised release to 8 years. Id.
considering whether to reduce Defendant's sentence, the
Court has carefully reviewed the Presentence Investigation
Report and Sentence Reduction Report, and has considered the
current statutory range, the Guidelines range, the §
3553(a) factors, and evidence of post-sentencing mitigation.
In light of these considerations, the Court concludes that a
reduction of his imprisonment term is not appropriate in this
case. There are several reasons why the Court has reached
this conclusion, including (1) his current sentence remains
below the unchanged Guidelines range; (2) he was held
accountable for nearly six kilograms of cocaine; and (3) he
has several prior drug distribution convictions. However, the
Court concludes that it would be appropriate to reduce his
term of supervised release to 8 years.
these reasons, Defendant's motion, ECF No. 60, is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. An
amended judgment will follow.