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United States v. Brown

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division

August 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
D-1 ERNEST T. BROWN, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SENTENCE REDUCTION

          Thomas L. Ludington United States District Judge.

         On April 11, 2007, Defendant Ernest T. Brown was indicted for one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, two counts of distribution of 5 grams of cocaine base, one count of possession of 5 kilograms or more of marijuana, and six counts of using a telephone to facilitate a conspiracy to distribute cocaine. ECF No. 1. Defendant pleaded guilty on October 9, 2007 to Count One, conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base. ECF No. 22. On April 10, 2008, Defendant was sentenced to 250 months incarceration. ECF No. 36 at PageID.147. He has now filed a motion for a reduction of his sentence pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018. His motion will be granted.

         I.

         A.

         The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 established significant penalties for the possession and distribution of crack cocaine. The disparity between the penalties for distributing crack cocaine and powder cocaine was 100-to-1. As the Supreme Court observed, the Act “imposed upon an offender who dealt in powder cocaine the same sentence it imposed upon an offender who dealt in one-hundredth that amount of crack cocaine.” Dorsey v. United States, 132 S.Ct. 2321, 2326 (2012).

         On August 3, 2010, Congress enacted the Fair Sentencing Act. Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372. Among other things, it reduced the statutory minimum sentences for crack cocaine offenses by increasing the quantity of crack cocaine necessary to trigger the minimums-raising the amount from 5 grams to 28 grams for the 5-year minimum sentence, and from 50 grams to 280 grams for the 10-year minimum sentence. See Fair Sentencing Act § (2)(a). It also directed the Sentencing Commission to conform the sentencing guidelines to the new statutory minimums. Id. § (8)(1). The Sentencing Commission then promulgated amendments to the guidelines, reducing the recommended sentencing ranges to levels consistent with the Fair Sentencing Act. See U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual App. C Amends. 750, 759 (2011).

         B.

         On December 21, 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act of 2018 (“FSA”). P.L. 115-391. The law permitted the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act and the associated guideline ranges. Section 404 of the FSA provides.

(a) DEFINITION OF COVERED OFFENSE.-In this section, the term “covered offense” means 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 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372), that was committed before August 3, 2010.
(b) DEFENDANTS PREVIOUSLY SENTENCED.-A court that imposed a sentence for a covered offense may, on motion of the defendant, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, the attorney for the Government, or the court, impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111- 220; 124 Stat. 2372) were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed.
(c) LIMITATIONS.-No court shall entertain a motion made under this section to reduce a sentence if the sentence was previously imposed or previously reduced in accordance with the amendments made by sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372) or if a previous motion made under this section to reduce the sentence was, after the date of enactment of this Act, denied after a complete review of the motion on the merits. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a court to reduce any sentence pursuant to this section.

P.L. 115-391, Section 404.

         1.

         18 U.S.C. §3582 governs the reduction of a criminal sentence and provides that a “court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed” except pursuant to specific exceptions. One of these exceptions is contained within 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(1)(B) which provides:

The court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed except that--the court may modify an imposed term of imprisonment to the extent otherwise expressly permitted by statute or by Rule ...

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