United States District Court, W.D. Virginia
Michael F. Urbanski, Chief United States District Judge.
Joseph Rodney Brooks filed a motion to reduce his sentence
pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-015.
He asks that his sentence be reduced from 262 months to 188
months, which may result in his immediate release. ECF No.
224. The government does not contest that Brooks is eligible
for a reduction of his sentence to 188 months to be followed
by a 4-year term of supervised release. Neither party
requested a hearing. For the reasons set forth below, the
court will GRANT Brooks's request and
modify his sentence to 188 months, but not less than time
served, to be followed by a 4-year term of supervised
October 4, 2006, pursuant to a written plea agreement, Brooks
pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute 50
grams or more of cocaine base and 500 grams or more of powder
cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and
841(b)(1)(A). ECF Nos. 100, 227. He also was found to be a
career offender based on at least two prior felony drug
convictions. ECF No. 227 at 8. According to the PSR, Brooks
was accountable for 494.6 grams of cocaine base. Id.
at 6-7. Based on the amount of cocaine base, his level
offense was 34, minus 3 points for acceptance of
responsibility, for a total offense level of 31. However, his
status as a career offender coupled with a conviction under
21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) resulted in an offense level of
37, reduced to 34 for acceptance of responsibility. ECF No.
227 at 7-8. With a criminal history of VI, his guideline
range was 262-327 months. ECF No. 227 at 15. On January 16,
2007 Brooks was sentenced to a term of 262 months to be
followed by a 5-year term of supervised release. ECF Nos.
120, 122. Brooks has served approximately 153 months and has
a projected release date of August 25, 2025. ECF No. 228.
time Brooks was sentenced, a violation of § 841(a)(1)
carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a
maximum of life imprisonment if the offense involved - more
than 50 grams of cocaine base, and a penalty range of 5 to 40
years if the offense involved more than 5 grams of cocaine
base. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) and (B) (2006). In 2010,
the Fair Sentencing Act was enacted, and Section 2 of the act
reduced 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).
Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, § 2,
124 Stat. 2372 (2010). Currently, in order to trigger the
10-years-to-life-sentencing range, the offense must involve
more than 280 grams of cocaine base, and to trigger the
5-to-40-year sentencing range, the offense must involve more
than 28 grams of cocaine base.
First Step Act was passed on December 21, 2018. Section 404
of the act permits a court, upon motion of the defendant or
the government, or upon its own motion, to impose a reduced
sentence for certain offenses in accordance with the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010, if such a reduction was not
previously granted. Offenses qualify for the reduction if
they were committed before August 3, 2010 and carry the
statutory penalties which were modified by section 2 or 3 of
the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. First Step Act of 2018, Pub.
L. No. 115-015, 132 Stat. 015 (2018).
parties agree that the First Step Act applies to Brooks.
Based on the 50 grams of cocaine base to which he pleaded
guilty, if the Fair Sentencing Act had been in effect at the
time he was sentenced, Brooks would have faced a minimum
sentence of 5 years and a maximum of forty years. 21 U.S.C.
§ 841 (b)(1)(B) (2018). In turn, that maximum sentence,
coupled with his career offender status, would have resulted
in a base level offense of 34 and a total offense level of
31. See USSG § 4B1.1(2); ECF No. 228. With a criminal
history category of VI, the corresponding advisory range for
offense level 31 is 188-235 months of imprisonment. ECF No.
Brooks been sentenced after passage of the Fair Sentencing
Act, an appropriate sentence would have been 188 months,
followed by a 4-year term of supervised release. A sentence
of 188 months is the bottom of the sentencing range and
corresponds to the 262-month sentence which was the bottom of
his original sentencing range. Thus, the parties agree that
an appropriate sentence for Brooks under the First Step Act
would be 188 months, followed by a 4-year term of supervised
release. Because Brooks has served approximately 153 months
and his projected release date is August 25, 2025, it appears
that he may be entitled to immediate release when his good
conduct time is factored into his sentence.
reasons stated above, the court will GRANT Brooks's
motion to reduce his sentence, ECF No. 224, and modify his
sentence to a total period of 188 months, but not less than
time served, to be followed by a 4-year term of supervised
release. The court finds the sentence agreed to by the
parties is sufficient, but not greater than necessary, and
accounts for the sentencing factors the court must consider
pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), specifically
deterrence, protection of the public, and respect for the
law. The Bureau of Prisons is directed to recalculate
Brooks's release date based on his amended sentence of
188 months and release him if he has fully served his
appropriate Order and amended judgment will be entered. If
Brooks is entitled to immediate release, judgment will be
stayed for ten days to give the Bureau ...