United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION REGARDING DEFENDANT BEAN'S FIRST STEP ACT
J. JONKER, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Bean pleaded guilty to a Section 841(b)(1)(A) drug offense
involving at least 50 grams of crack cocaine in August of
2009. The government had a Section 851 Notice on file
reporting a prior felony drug offense conviction. At the time
of Defendant Bean's sentencing in December of 2009, this
exposed him to a mandatory minimum sentence of twenty years
in prison. He was thirty-one years old at the time.
matter before the Court is Defendant Bean's motion for
modification or reduction in sentence under the newly enacted
First Step Act. (ECF No. 67). The Court appointed counsel to
assist Defendant Bean with his motion, and both sides have
filed briefs. The government responds that the First Step Act
reduces the statutory mandatory minimum applicable to
Defendant Bean, but does not affect defendant's maximum
sentence or his guideline range. And because Defendant Bean
has already received a below-guideline sentence, the
government suggests no further reduction is called for. (ECF
No. 72). The defense replies by averring that the First Step
Act provides a free-standing remedy and so the Court should
conduct a plenary resentencing. It contends that in such a
proceeding, the Court may consider several other matters and
apply other changes in the law that may favor the Defendant.
For example, the defense contends the Court should determine
whether the predicate offense in the government's Section
851 notice would qualify as a predicate offense today. (ECF
No. 73). The government opposes any plenary proceeding.
Court sees no need for a hearing on the fully briefed issues.
Defendant Bean is eligible for relief under the First Step
Act, but the Court does not believe a plenary resentencing is
necessary or proper. Once eligibility is established,
however, everything else goes into the discretionary mix to
inform the Court's decision. The Court discerns a number
of considerations that justify a reduced sentence under the
First Step Act in this case. The Court can and does exercise
its discretion under the First Step Act to reduce Defendant
Bean's sentence as provided in this Opinion and
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
December 2008 an anonymous source informed the Kalamazoo
Valley Enforcement Team that crack cocaine was being
manufactured in an apartment located at 5030 Cooper's
Landing, Kalamazoo. A building representative confirmed that
there had been complaints of excessive traffic in and out of
apartment 2A, and a search warrant was obtained. After
conducting surveillance, police determined that the apartment
was occupied by Demetrius Haywood, and his cousin, Defendant
Bean. A search warrant was executed on the premises on
December 16, 2008, and police recovered a semi-automatic
handgun, ammunition, narcotics, cash currency, and drug
paraphernalia. While Mr. Haywood was arrested, Defendant Bean
was not arrested at that time, and the investigation
continued. In January 2009, police executed a warrant at the
residence of Melvin Scott Coy-Coleman. There law enforcement
officers recovered 54.06 grams of crack cocaine, and Mr.
Coy-Coleman reported he had recently purchased the crack
cocaine from Defendant Bean. Then, Defendant Bean was
arrested in March 2009 for driving without a license as well
as for child support violations. During a search of his
person, police recovered a quantity of crack cocaine. After
being arrested, Defendant Bean posted bond and was released.
investigation into Defendant Bean culminated on April 27,
2009. On that date police officers executed a search warrant
at his residence. The police recovered crack cocaine, lottery
tickets, cash, and drug paraphernalia such as scales and
packaging materials. In total, approximately 277 grams of
crack cocaine was attributed to Defendant Bean.
Charge & Plea
Defendant Bean was charged in a three-count indictment on May
13, 2009, with conspiracy to distribute fifty grams or more
of crack cocaine (Count 1); maintaining a drug involved
premises (Count 2); and with possession with intent to
distribute five grams or more of crack cocaine (Count 3).
(ECF No. 1).
August 18, 2009, the government filed an information and
notice of prior drug conviction. (ECF No. 33). The filing
notified the defense and the Court of the Defendant's
April 1, 2002, felony drug conviction in state court for
delivery of less than 50 grams of cocaine. The effect of this
notice was to increase the range of statutory penalties then
applicable to Defendant Bean from ten years to life
imprisonment to twenty years to life imprisonment.
See 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(A)(iii); 851
March 5, 2009, Defendant pleaded guilty to Count 1
(conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of crack cocaine).
(ECF No. 45). Under the terms of a written plea agreement,
the government agreed to dismiss the remaining charges in the
indictment and not to file an additional Section 851 notice
alleging that the defendant had more than one prior felony
PSR & Sentencing
Final Presentence Report (PSR) prepared by the probation
officer found that Defendant Bean was responsible for a total
drug quantity of 277.71 grams of crack cocaine, as well as
for the possession of a firearm and taser recovered during
the December 16, 2008 search of the apartment he shared with
Mr. Haywood. (PSR ¶ 28). The quantity of narcotics
triggered an initial base offense level of 32. Two levels
were added for possession of dangerous weapons during the
offense, resulting in an adjusted offense level of 34. After
adjusting downward for acceptance of responsibility, the
total drug offense level was 31. (PSR ¶¶ 34,
determined, however, that Defendant Bean qualified as a
career offender because he committed the offense of
conviction after sustaining two prior felony convictions for
controlled substance offenses. Since the statutory maximum
penalty for the offense of conviction was life under Section
841(b)(1)(A)(iii), the guidelines called for a career
offender offense level of 34, after adjusting for acceptance
of responsibility. See U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b)(A).
Level 34 being higher than the offense level calculated under
Section 2D1.1, it took precedence and became Defendant
Bean's total offense level. (PSR ¶¶ 42-43).
officer then scored Defendant's criminal history at
eighteen points, resulting in a criminal history category of
The guideline range for a total offense level of 34 and
criminal history category of VI was 262 to 327 months. (PSR
¶¶ 77-78). At the December 9, 2009 sentencing the
Court varied downward from the guideline range and imposed a
sentence of 240 months imprisonment-the mandatory minimum.
(ECF No. 45). During the hearing, the Court acknowledged
Defendant Bean's lengthy criminal history, but noted that
the guideline range created an ...