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United States v. Jackson

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division

December 1, 2014


For USA, Plaintiff: V. Kathleen Dougherty, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, U.S. Attorney's Office (Norfolk, NA), Norfolk, VA; Sherrie S. Capotosto, United States Attorney's Office, Norfolk, VA.


Robert G. Doumar, Senior United States District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court upon Eddie Lee Jackson's (" Defendant" ) Motion to Correct Sentence. ECF No. 53. In his Motion, Defendant makes two challenges

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to his sentence: (1) that his lifetime term of supervised release violates the five year statutory limitation in 18 U.S.C. § 3583, and (2) that the conditional fine imposed by the court is unworkable and not authorized by law. Id. Defendant requests that this Court modify his sentence, pursuant to Rule 35(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, to reduce his term of supervised release to no greater than five years and to eliminate the fine. Id. For the reasons set forth herein, the Court DENIES Defendant's Motion.


On April 7, 2014, Defendant pled guilty before Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller to Possession with Intent to Distribute a Mixture and Substance Containing Cocaine Base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(iii). However, on August 29, with the approval of the United States, Defendant filed a motion requesting to amend the Statement of Facts he had agreed to as part of his guilty plea. ECF No. 36. At issue was a provision of the Statement of Facts that stated that Defendant had " sold user quantities of powder and crack cocaine from his residence for the past 10 years." ECF No. 25 at ¶ 2. Since the length of relevant conduct would have stretched back 10 years, Defendant's old felony convictions for possession and distribution of illicit drugs would have come within the applicable time period, making him a Career Offender.[1] At a hearing on September 16, 2014, rather than amend the Statement of Facts sworn to at Defendant's plea hearing before Judge Miller, the Court declined to accept the original guilty plea altogether. Defendant ultimately pled guilty, with the new Statement of Facts, before the Court on September 30, 2014.

At the sentencing hearing on November 17, 2014, Defendant made two objections to the Presentence Investigation Report (" PSR" ) which affected his sentencing guidelines. The first objection was that the PSR improperly attributed conduct in 2005 to Defendant, which, like the conduct alleged in the original Statement of Facts, would have made Defendant a Career Offender. The objected to conduct arose out of a 2005 search of Defendant's residence, in which approximately 32.9 grams of cocaine base were recovered. ECF No. 49 at ¶ 9. As a result of this search, Defendant's son was arrested, but Defendant was not. Id. At the sentencing hearing, the Court ruled that the recovery of drugs from Defendant's home in 2005 should not be included in relevant conduct for his instant offense.

Defendant's second objection was to an enhancement for his role as an " organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor" in a criminal activity. The basis for this enhancement was a confidential informant's claim that Defendant's roommate was allegedly selling drugs on behalf of Defendant. ECF No. 49 at ¶ ¶ 10,13. In addressing this objection, the Court acknowledged that the United States may be able to prove the facts underlying the enhancement. However, to avoid raising any issues caused by Defendant's lack of access to the confidential informant, the Court declined to apply the enhancement. The Court then indicated that it planned to sentence Defendant to the statutory minimum term of 60 months imprisonment, but

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that this otherwise light sentence would also come with lifetime supervised release.

The United States requested a 60 month sentence for Defendant on the belief that Defendant was not a " drug kingpin" or " high level dealer." The Court agrees that Defendant is likely not a dangerous " drug kingpin" who needs to be kept off the streets for an extended period of time. He is, however, a long term offender who is likely to relapse without substantial supervision. Taking this and other § 3553 factors into consideration, the Court fashioned a sentence to appropriately respond to Defendant's circumstances:[2] 60 months imprisonment, lifetime supervised release, and a $10,000 fine.

At the hearing, Defendant's Counsel objected to lifetime supervised release because, he alleged, it created a sentencing disparity and was greater than necessary. The Court found that Defendant was clearly a long time dealer and held that lifetime supervised release was necessary to prevent Defendant from selling crack again.[3] Defendant's Counsel did not argue that the term of supervised release violated any statutory limitations. If Defendant had so argued, perhaps the Court would have decreased his supervised release and imposed a longer term of incarceration. Sentences must be viewed as a whole, not as parts. A sentence of 60 months imprisonment and five years supervised release was and is not sufficient to satisfy the § 3553 factors.[4] Rather than impose a longer term of imprisonment, the Court determined that a longer term of supervised release better addressed the situation.[5]

At the sentencing hearing, Defendant also objected to the $10,000 fine. Defendant's Counsel argued that the tax lien might be legitimate despite Defendant's lack of knowledge. In response, the Court added the condition to Defendant's fine that, if the United States collects the ...

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