United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
OPINION REGARDING DEFENDANT INGRAM’S FIRST STEP
J. JONKER, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Ingram pleaded guilty to a Section 841(b)(1)(A) drug offense
involving at least 50 grams of crack cocaine in May 2008. The
Final Presentence Report completed by the probation office
determined Defendant Ingram was responsible for a quantity of
narcotics-including 1.336 kilograms of crack cocaine-that was
equivalent to over 26, 000 kilograms of marijuana. This was
sufficient at the time to trigger a sentencing range of 10
years to life imprisonment under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b), as
well as to trigger a base offense level of 34. On October 10,
2008, Judge Bell sentenced Defendant Ingram to 240 months
imprisonment, a downward variance from the guideline range.
Defendant Ingram was 28 years old at the time.
matter before the Court is Defendant Ingram’s motions
for modification or reduction in sentence under the newly
enacted First Step Act. (ECF Nos. 121, 123, and 124). The
Court appointed counsel to assist Defendant Ingram with his
motion, and both sides have filed briefs. The government
responds that Defendant Ingram is not eligible for
consideration because the quantity of crack cocaine the PSR
attributed to Defendant’s conduct is more than enough,
even after subsequent statutory changes, to activate the
original statutory penalty range that applied to Defendant.
The government further contends that even if the Court finds
Defendant Ingram eligible, Defendant Ingram has already
received a below-guideline sentence and so no further
reduction is called for. (ECF No. 59).
defense replies by averring that Defendant is eligible for a
reduced sentence and requests the Court award a comparable
variance under the newly calculated guidelines. Defendant
also challenges the quantity of narcotics that he was found
responsible for as well as his career offender status. The
government opposes any plenary proceeding.
Court sees no need for a hearing on the fully briefed issues.
Defendant Ingram is eligible for relief under the First Step
Act, but the Court does not believe a plenary resentencing is
necessary or proper. This means, among other things, that
while the Court may consider these arguments in making its
discretionary call, the First Step Act does not provide an
avenue for Defendant to challenge his career offender status
or the quantity of narcotics that was attributed to him. That
said, 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 Ingram’s
sentence as provided in this Opinion and accompanying Order.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
2006 a confidential informant (CI) told a detective with the
Traverse Narcotics Team (TNT) of the Michigan State Police
that Defendant Ingram had been selling crack cocaine to the
informant for the past few months. In the following weeks and
months, TNT members conducted an investigation that included
controlled buys, interviews, and the execution of search
warrants. Ultimately Defendant Ingram and his co-defendant
were indicted on September 27, 2007 with conspiracy to
distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base (“crack
cocaine”) in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846,
841(a)(1), and (b)(1)(A)(iii). (ECF No. 1). Defendant Ingram
was arrested on October 3, 2007.
16, 2008, Defendant Ingram pleaded guilty before the
Honorable Robert Holmes Bell to Count 1 of the Indictment
under the terms of a written plea agreement. (ECF Nos. 34 and
38). As part of the agreement, Defendant Ingram admitted that
he was responsible for more than 50 grams of crack cocaine in
relation to the charged conspiracy. (ECF No. 34, PageID.292).
This triggered a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in
prison. In exchange for his plea, the government agreed not
to file a notice of sentence enhancement under 21 U.S.C.
§ 851 that would have increased the mandatory minimum
penalties applicable to Defendant.
PSR & Sentencing
calculated an initial offense level of 34 under U.S.S.G.
§ 2D1.1 based on the quantity of narcotics attributable
to Defendant’s criminal activity. (PSR ¶ 60).
The officer then added two levels for possession of a
dangerous weapon (PSR ¶ 61) and four levels for
Defendant Ingram’s role as a leader in the offense (PSR
¶ 63). Three levels were then deducted for Defendant
Ingram’s acceptance of responsibility. (PSR
¶¶ 66 and 67). The resulting total offense level
was 37. (PSR ¶ 68). Defendant Ingram’s career
offender status then elevated his criminal history category
from IV to VI. (PSR ¶¶ 84-85). On the chart, this
resulted in a guideline range of 360 months to life
imprisonment. (PSR ¶ 114).
October 10, 2008 sentencing, Judge Bell adopted the PSR in
all respects except that the court reduced Defendant’s
leadership role enhancement from four levels to three. (ECF
No. 80, PageID.448). The resulting guideline range was 324 to
405 months based on a Total Offense Level of 36 and Criminal
History Category of VI. The court then granted a downward
variance and imposed a sentence of 240 months imprisonment to
be followed by 5 years of supervised release. (ECF No. 55).
Defendant did not appeal his conviction or sentence.