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United States v. Edwards

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Abingdon Division

February 26, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DONALD ALLEN EDWARDS, Defendant.

          By: James P. Jones United States District Judge Jennifer R. Bockhorst, Assistant United States Attorney, Abingdon, Virginia, for United States

          Brian J. Beck, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Abingdon, Virginia, for Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          James P. Jones United States District Judge

         The defendant has filed a motion to reduce sentence pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, § 404, 132 Stat. 5194, 5220 (2018) (“2018 FSA” or “Act”), which made retroactive certain provisions of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, § 2, 124 Stat. 2372, 2372 (2010) (“2010 FSA”). I find the defendant eligible for relief and I will reduce the sentence.

         Section 2 of the 2010 FSA reduced the penalties for offenses involving cocaine base by increasing the threshold drug quantities required to trigger mandatory minimum sentences under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1). After the enactment of the 2010 FSA, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) must involve at least 280 grams of cocaine base, rather than 50 grams, to trigger the 10-years-to-life penalty range of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) and 28 grams of cocaine base, rather than 5 grams, to trigger the 5-to-40 years penalty range of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B). The 2018 FSA provides that the court 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 the 2010 FSA were in effect at the time the defendant's crime was committed. 2018 FSA § 404(b).

         While a defendant whose crime was committed before August 3, 2010, may be eligible for reduction in sentence, 2018 FSA § 404(a), the Act provides that the court is not required to reduce any sentence, id. at § 404(c). Thus, the court must first consider whether the defendant is eligible for a reduction in sentence. Second, if the defendant is eligible for reduction, the court must determine whether, and to what extent, a reduction is warranted.

         The defendant was indicted in this court on September 14, 2000, and charged with, among other things, conspiring to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846 (Count One), and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count Eight). The defendant pleaded guilty to Counts One and Eight pursuant to a written plea agreement and was determined to have a total offense level as to Count One of 29, and a criminal history category of III, which under the U.S.

         Sentencing Guidelines Manual, produced a guideline range of 108 to 135 months.[1]Because the statutory mandatory minimum for Count One exceeded that range, the guideline range was determined to be 120 months. The defendant was sentenced on April 24, 2001, to the statutory mandatory minimum on Count One of 120 months, to be followed by a statutory mandatory minimum consecutive sentence of 120 months on Count Eight, for a total sentence of 240 months. The defendant's current release date is June 30, 2019.

         Under the 2018 FSA, the new statutory sentencing range for Count One, if applied to the defendant, would be 5 to 40 years. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B). The statutory mandatory consecutive minimum for Count Eight would remain at ten years, since it is not affected by the 2018 FSA.

         I find it appropriate in determining whether to reduce the defendant's sentence, and the extent of any such reduction, to consider the sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). I have reviewed the defendant's original Presentence Investigation Report and education and disciplinary data while in prison, as well as the briefs filed by counsel. I will reduce the defendant's sentence to not less than time served, to be followed by a term of supervised release of four years.[2]

         Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED as follows:

         1. The Motion to Reduce Sentence, ECF No. 299, is GRANTED;

         2. The defendant's sentence is hereby reduced to time served as to Count One and time served as to Count Eight, meaning that the defendant has now fully served the imprisonment imposed as to both counts and is to be released from imprisonment. This imprisonment is to be followed by a total term of supervised release of four years, consisting of a term of four years on ...


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