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United States v. Fleming

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

November 14, 2019

United States, Plaintiff,
v.
Anthony LaJuan Fleming, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SENTENCE REDUCTION PURSUANT TO THEFIRST STEP ACT OF 2018 [69]

          HON. GERSHWIN A. DRAIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         On June 9, 2008, Anthony LaJuan Fleming (“Defendant”) was indicted on two counts of distributing cocaine base, 21 U.S.C. § 841. ECF No. 3. Defendant entered a guilty plea on August 15, 2008, which charged him with distribution of 50 or more grams of crack cocaine. ECF No. 19. He was sentenced on December 5, 2008 and is currently serving a sentence of 290 months. See ECF No. 20.

         Since Defendant's sentencing in December 2008, Congress enacted the First Step Act of 2018 (“the Act”). The Act authorizes federal district courts to exercise their discretion and resentence a defendant who was sentenced before August 3, 2010 as though the Fair Sentencing Act's (“FSA”) lower threshold quantities of crack cocaine had been in place at the time of sentencing.

         Presently before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Sentence Reduction Pursuant to the First Step Act, filed on June 27, 2019. ECF No. 69. The Government filed a Response on July 15, 2019. ECF No. 71. Defendant timely submitted his Reply ten days later. ECF No. 72. A hearing on Defendant's Motion was held on November 13, 2019. For the reasons that follow, the Court will GRANT Defendant's Motion [#69]. The Court will conduct a resentencing hearing on November 25, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

         II. Factual Background

         On October 11, 2007, Defendant sold 22.3 grams of cocaine base to a confidential source. ECF. No. 19. Later that month, on October 19, 2007, a Michigan State Police Confidential Informant contacted Defendant and arranged the controlled purchase of a quantity of cocaine base, commonly known as “crack” cocaine. Id. Later that day, the confidential source met with Defendant at City Center Plaza in Flint, Michigan, and purchased 103 grams of crack cocaine directly from Defendant. Id.

         Defendant was indicted on two counts of distributing cocaine base in June 2008. ECF No. 3. On August 15, 2008, Defendant pleaded guilty to Count Two- distribution of 50 or more grams of cocaine base-and the Government agreed to dismiss Count One. ECF No. 19. Defendant's counsel objected to whether Defendant's prior conviction for fleeing constituted a crime of violence under the guidelines. See ECF No. 25, PageID.65, 73. Defendant was sentenced to 290 months imprisonment on December 5, 2008. ECF No. 20, PageID.50.

         On January 6, 2009, Defendant filed a Notice of Appeal to the Sixth Circuit regarding his Judgement and Sentence. ECF No. 21. The Sixth Circuit dismissed the appeal, noting that Defendant waived his appeal because his sentence was within the agreed sentencing range after knowingly and voluntarily entering a guilty plea. ECF No. 29.

         In December 2012, Defendant filed a Motion for Retroactive Application of Sentencing Guidelines to his crack cocaine offense. ECF Nos. 30, 31. The Court ordered the appointment of a federal defender to determine his eligibility. ECF No. 32. The Federal Defender's Office determined that Defendant was not eligible for a sentence modification because the modification to the crack guideline “does not have the effect of lowering the defendant's applicable guideline range.” ECF No. 34, PageID.121. The Court then denied Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration because reductions were not permitted for defendants who were sentenced prior to the effective date of the FSA. ECF No. 35.

         In June 2016, the Court granted Defendant's Motion to Vacate Sentence. ECF No. 43. However, the Court vacated that order after ordering supplemental briefing from the parties to address the Supreme Court's then-recent Beckles v. United States decision. ECF No. 58. It further denied Defendant's Motion to Vacate and Correct Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Id.

         Defendant now moves this Court, pursuant to the Act, to impose a reduced sentence and grant him immediate release. ECF No. 69, PageID.290.

         III. Legal Standard

         A federal court is generally prohibited from modifying a defendant's term of imprisonment once it has been imposed. See 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). The rule of finality, though, is subject to a “few narrow exceptions.” Freeman v. United States, 564 U.S. 522, 526 (2011). Section 3582(c)(1)(b) equips a court with one of these “narrow exceptions”: a court can modify an imposed sentence “to the extent otherwise expressly ...


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