Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Ancrum

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

May 14, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
KHARY JAMAL ANCRUM, Petitioner.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge.

         Khary Jamal Ancrum, represented by counsel, filed a motion to reduce his sentence pursuant to Section 404(b) of the First Step Act of 2018. ECF No. 1472.[1] He asks the court to reduce his current sentence of life to time served. The government asserts that Ancrum is ineligible for consideration of a reduction in his sentence, and in the alternative, that if he is eligible for consideration, a further reduction of his sentence is not warranted. For the reasons set forth below, the court will GRANT Ancrum's request in part and reduce his sentence to 240 months, to be followed by an 8-year term of supervised release.

         BACKGROUND

         On July 22, 2004, a jury convicted Ancrum on one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base as charged in Count 1 of a superseding indictment. ECF Nos. 17, 494. In addition, the government filed two notices of enhanced punishment pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851, based on prior felony drug convictions. ECF No. 478.

         Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(A), Ancrum faced a statutory minimum sentence of life because he had two or more prior convictions for a felony drug offense. ECF No. 1456. For purposes of the sentencing guidelines, based on 1, 160 grams of cocaine base, he had a base offense level of 36, increased by 2 points for carrying a firearm while distributing narcotics, and by 2 additional points for his role in the offense, for a total offense level of 40. ECF No. 10. Coupled with a criminal history category of VI, his guideline range was 360 months to life. U.S.S.G. Ch. 5, Pt. A; ECF No. 1456. However, because the statutory minimum sentence was life, the guideline range also was life. U.S.S.G. § 5G1.1 (c)(2).

         On December 9, 2004, Ancrum was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment to be followed by a 10-year term of supervised release. ECF No. 527. He has served approximately 186 months and has no projected release date. ECF No. 1453.

         Ancrum seeks relief under the First Step Act. He argues that he is eligible for relief and that this court has discretion to reduce his sentence to time served.

         I. First Step Act

         At the time Ancrum was sentenced, a violation of § 841(a)(1) carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence 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 passed, 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.

         The 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).

         The government argues that even though Ancrum committed his offense before August 3, 2010, and even though his offenses carry the statutory penalties which were modified by Section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act, that he does not qualify for a sentence reduction. The government argues that it is the drug weight for which a defendant is held responsible and not the drug weight for which he was convicted that determines eligibility for First Step Act relief and that Ancrum's drug quantity in the Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) makes him ineligible. In the alternative, the government contends that even if Ancrum is eligible for a modification of his sentence, the court should exercise its discretion and decline to reduce the sentence.

         II. Drug Weight

         The government asserts that whether a defendant is entitled to relief under the First Step Act depends on the amount of cocaine base for which he was found responsible in die PSR, rather than the amount for which he was indicted and convicted. Because Ancrum was found responsible for 1, 160 grams of cocaine base in the PSR, which would make him subject to the 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)(A) penalties, the government argues that he is not entitled to relief under the First Step Act.

         Ancrum responds that the drug weight is an element of the offense and that any fact that increases a mandatory minimum penalty is an element that must be charged in an indictment and proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, citing Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000) and Alleyne v. United States, 570 U.S. 99 (2013). Under those two cases, if Ancrum were sentenced today, his ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.