United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge
Travis Lee Jones has filed a motion for reduction of sentence
under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) based on Amendment 782 to
the United States Sentencing Guidelines. For the following
reasons, the defendant's motion must be denied.
26, 2011, a grand jury in the Western District of Virginia
returned a multi-count indictment against Jones. Count One of
the indictment charged the defendant with conspiracy to
distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, in violation
of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A), and 846.
On September 14, 2011, Jones entered a plea of guilty to that
to sentencing, a probation officer prepared a presentence
investigation report ("PSR"). In the PSR, the
probation officer attributed between 1.5 and 5 kilograms of
methamphetamine to the defendant. That particular drug
quantity and type resulted in a base offense level of 34
under United States Sentencing Guidelines
("U.S.S.G.") § 2D1.1(c) (2010). With a
two-level enhancement for possession of a firearm, a
three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, and a
criminal history category of VI, Jones' guideline range
would have been 235 to 293 months of imprisonment. However,
Jones was also found to be a career offender under U.S.S.G.
§ 4B1.1. As a result of the career offender designation,
the base offense level calculated under § 2D1.1 was
superseded by the higher offense level determined by the
career offender provision. See U.S.S.G. §
4B1.1(b) (providing that "the offense level from the
table in this subsection shall apply" if it "is
greater than the offense level otherwise applicable").
Application of the career offender provision ultimately
resulted in a total offense level of 34 and an advisory
guideline range of imprisonment of 262 to 327 months.
appeared for sentencing on December 12, 2011. At that time,
the court adopted the PSR in its entirety, including the
determination that the defendant qualified for sentencing
under the career offender provision of the Guidelines.
However, the court found that the career offender designation
overstated Jones' actual criminal history. Accordingly,
the court departed downward to a total offense level of 33,
which produced a post-departure range of 235 to 293
months' imprisonment. The court ultimately sentenced the
defendant to a term of imprisonment of 240 months.
2015, the government moved to reduce Jones' sentence for
substantial assistance, pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal
Procedure 35(b). The court granted the motion and reduced the
defendant's term of imprisonment to 180 months.
January of 2015, Jones filed a pro se motion for reduction of
sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). This statute
authorizes the court to reduce a defendant's term of
imprisonment if the term was "based on a sentencing
range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing
Commission," and "if such a reduction is consistent
with the applicable policy statements issued by the
Sentencing Commission." 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The
defendant relied on Amendment 782 to the Sentencing
Guidelines, which reduced the base offense levels assigned to
most drug quantities in § 2D 1.1 by two levels. Counsel
subsequently filed a brief in support of the defendant's
11, 2016, the court denied the defendant's motion for
reduction of sentence. The court determined that the
defendant was not eligible for relief under §
3582(c)(2), since his guideline range as a career offender
was not affected by Amendment 782. The court's decision
was affirmed on appeal by the United States Court of Appeals
for the Fourth Circuit. See United States v.
Jones, No. 16-6667 (4th Cir. July 20, 2017) (affirming
for the reasons stated by the district court).
defendant, through counsel, has filed a second motion for
reduction of sentence pursuant to § 3582(c)(2) and
Amendment 782. Relying on the Supreme Court's recent
decision in Hughes v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1765
(2018), the defendant argues that his sentence was
"based on" the drug quantity guidelines rather than
the career offender provisions. For the following reasons,
the court remains convinced that the defendant is not
eligible for a sentence reduction.
current motion is based entirely on the Supreme Court's
ruling in Hughes. In that case, the
"controlling issue" was "whether a defendant
may seek relief under § 3582(c)(2) if he entered a plea
agreement specifying a particular sentence under Federal Rule
of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C)." Hughes, 138
S.Ct. at 1773. The Supreme Court had previously confronted
the same question in Freeman v. United States, 564
U.S. 522 (2011). "Freeman ended in a 4-1-4
decision that left lower courts confused as to whether the
plurality or the concurring opinion controlled."
Id. at 1778 (Sotomayor, J., concurring). In
Hughes, the Court "resolve[d] the uncertainty
that resulted from [its] divided decision in
Freeman," and held that "a sentence
imposed pursuant to a [Rule 11(c)(1)(C) agreement] is
'based on' the defendant's Guidelines range so
long as that range was part of the framework the district
court relied on in imposing the sentence or accepting the
agreement." Id. at 1775. In the case before it,
the district court "calculated Hughes' sentencing
range and imposed a sentence that the court deemed
'compatible' with the Guidelines." Id.
at 1778. "Thus, the sentencing range was a basis for the
sentence" that the district court imposed. Id.
Because "[t]hat range ha[d] 'subsequently been
lowered by the Sentencing Commission'" through
Amendment 782, the Supreme Court concluded that Hughes was
eligible for relief under § 3582(c)(2).[*]
reliance on Hughes is misplaced for two reasons.
First, unlike the plea agreement in Hughes, the plea
agreement in the instant case did not include an agreed-upon
sentence or sentencing range under Rule 11(c)(1)(C). See
United States v. Frazier, 742 Fed.Appx. 763, 764 n.*
(4th Cir. 2018) ("Frazier's reliance on the Supreme
Court's ruling in Hughes ... is misplaced.
Unlike in Hughes, Frazier's plea agreement did
not include a sentencing stipulation pursuant to Fed. R.
Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C).").
Amendment 782 did not have the effect of lowering the
guideline range that applies in this case. As indicated
above, § 3582(c)(2) authorizes the court to reduce a
defendant's sentence only if the defendant was
"sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a
sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the
Sentencing Commission," and if "such a reduction is
consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the
Sentencing Commission." 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The
"applicable policy statements" are those found in
U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10. Dillon v. United States, 560
U.S. 817. 826 (2010). "A reduction is not consistent
with applicable policy statements and therefore not
authorized under § 3582(c)(2) if 'an amendment
listed in [U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(d)] does not have the
effect of lowering the defendant's applicable guideline
range.'" United States v. Nickens, 668
Fed.Appx. 20, 21 (4th Cir. 2016) (quoting U.S.S.G. §
1B1.10(a)(2)(B)). The Guidelines define the "applicable
guideline range" as "the guideline range that