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
After the Government withdrew at sentencing one of the two
enhancing convictions listed in the previously-filed §
851 Information, his statutory sentencing range was 20 years
to Life, followed by at least 10 years of supervised release.
PSR ¶¶ 71, 76; ECF No. 89 at 1. His Guidelines
range was 360 months to Life (37/VI), followed by 10 years of
supervised release. PSR ¶¶ 72, 79; ECF No. 89 at 1.
The Court imposed a 360-month term of imprisonment, followed
by a 10-year term of supervised release. ECF No. 88. His
sentence was later reduced to 295 months and then 264 months
pursuant to Guidelines amendments. ECF Nos. 196, 210.
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 with violating 21 U.S.C.
§ 841(b)(1)(A)(iii). Section 2(a) of the Fair Sentencing
Act modified the statutory penalties set forth in §
841(b)(1)(A)(iii) by increasing the threshold amount of crack
from 50 grams to 280 grams.
Government takes the position that Defendant is not eligible
for relief under the First Step Act because the crack weight
for which he was held accountable at sentencing-5.4
kilograms-exceeds the current § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii)
threshold of 280 grams. The Government asserts that if the
Fair Sentencing Act had been in effect when he committed the
offense of conviction, the Government would have charged the
current § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii) threshold amount.
See ECF No. 288 at 4-6. The Fourth Circuit has
recently considered the question of when a defendant is
eligible for relief under the First Step Act, ultimately
holding that “any 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.” United States
v. Wirsing, 943 F.3d 175, 185 (4th Cir. 2019) (citations
omitted). 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 and 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B).
Defendant's motion, he requests a full resentencing
hearing in which he would presumably challenge the continued
validity of his career offender designation. See ECF
No. 286 at 9. The Government argues that he is not entitled
to a full resentencing. See ECF No. 288 at 7-9.
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.” The Government argues that
even if the Court concludes that he is eligible for relief,
the Court should exercise its discretion to not reduce his
sentence because the Government would have charged him with
the current threshold amount if the Fair Sentencing Act had
been in place when he committed the offense of conviction.
The Government also points to his firearm enhancement and
threat of violence in this case, along with his criminal
history as bases to deny a sentence reduction. See
ECF No. 288 at 6-7. Notably, Wirsing did not address
whether that particular defendant's sentence should have
been reduced, only that he was eligible for consideration.
See Wirsing, 943 F.3d at 186.
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
sentence reduction is not appropriate in this case. There are
several reasons why the Court has reached this conclusion,
including (1) he was held accountable at sentencing for a
crack weight (5.4 kilograms) that would have supported a
charge to the current threshold amount (280 grams); (2) in
light of his career offender designation, his Guidelines
range has not changed; (3) he received a firearm enhancement;
(4) the Government notes in its brief that the PSR states
that during a controlled drug buy, he threatened to shoot the
confidential informant if he discovered that the confidential
informant was wearing a wire; and (5) he has two prior
convictions for possession of drugs with intent to
distribute. For these reasons, the Court declines to reduce
his sentence, and his motion, ECF No. 286, is therefore
IS SO ORDERED.
 The indictment charged 50 grams or
more of crack and 500 grams or more of cocaine, but pursuant
to the plea agreement, he only pled guilty to the crack
portion of the charge. See ECF No. 49 at 1.
 He was classified as a career
offender, but his Guidelines range was driven by the §
2D1.1 calculation, not the career offender calculation under