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United States v. Steward

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

May 23, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LAMONT D. STEWARD, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

         This matter is before the Court on Lamont D. Steward's ("Defendant") Motion to Reduce Sentence Pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018 ("Motion to Reduce"). ECF No. 62. In such Motion to Reduce, Defendant requests that the Court reduce his term of imprisonment from 150 months to time served. Defendant further requests that the Court reduce his term of supervised release from five years to three years. ECF No. 74 at 14. While the Court finds Defendant eligible for a potential reduction under the First Step Act, the Court exercises its discretion under same and denies both of these requests.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On June 16, 2009, pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pled guilty to a criminal indictment charging him with Possession with Intent to Distribute more than 5 grams of cocaine base (Count One) and possession of a firearm by a felon (Count Four), among other charges. ECF Nos. 1, 12. On October 19, 2009, Defendant was sentenced to a 188-month term of imprisonment-188 months on Count One, and 120 months on Count Four, to be served concurrently. ECF No. 22. On November 14, 2013, the Court reduced Defendant's sentence by twenty percent (20%) to 150 months. ECF No. 50. Defendant's current release date from the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") is December 19, 2019.

         On January 19, 2019, Defendant filed a Motion for Appointment of Counsel Regarding Potential Relief Under the First Step Act ("Motion for Appointment of Counsel"), ECF No. 60, and attached a Motion to Reduce Sentence Pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018 ("Motion to Reduce"), ECF No. 60-1. In its Order dated February 6, 2019, the Court granted Defendant's Motion for Appointment of Counsel, appointing the Office of the Federal Public Defender to represent Defendant in this matter. ECF No. 61. The Court also directed the clerk to file as a separate submission Defendant's Motion to Reduce, which was filed on February 7, 2019. ECF No. 62.

         Further, the Court directed the United States Probation Office to file a worksheet and supporting memorandum reflecting Defendant's revised Sentencing Guidelines calculation, if any, under the First Step Act. ECF No. 61 at 2. Such worksheet and supporting memorandum were filed on February 11, 2019, in which the United States Probation Office recommended that the Court find Defendant "ineligible for an adjustment of his sentence as he was originally sentenced to 188 months which was reduced to 150 months, both of which are lower than the new statutory maximum of 240 months." ECF Nos. 65, 66. The Government did not file objections.

         On February 21, 2019, the Court entered an Order directing Defendant to file an answer or other response, if any, to the United States Probation Officer's memorandum and worksheet within twenty-one (21) days. ECF No. 67. Defendant, through counsel, filed his Response to the Court's Order of February 21, 2019 ("Response"). ECF No. 68. In such Response, Defendant maintains that he "is eligible for a reduced sentence under the First Step Act of 2018 and ... request[s] that his sentence be reduced to time served and 3 years of supervised release." ECF No. 68 at 5.

         On February 27, 2019, the Court entered an Order directing the Government to file an answer, motion, or other response addressing Defendant's Motion to Reduce, ECF No. 62, and Defendant's Response to the Court's Order of February 21, 2019, ECF No. 68. ECF No. 70. The Government filed its "Reply to Defendant's Position on Applicability of the First Step Act" ("Government's Response") on February 27, 2019. ECF No. 71. Defendant filed his "Reply to the Government's Response to Defendant's First Step Act Motion" ("Defendant's Reply") on March 13, 2019. ECF No. 74. The Court granted the Government's request to file a sur-reply on March 25, 2019, ECF Nos. 75 & 76, which the Government filed on April 8, 2019, ECF No. 78. The parties appeared before this Court for a hearing on this matter on May 21, 2019.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. Defendant is Eligible for a Potential Reduction of Sentence Under the First Step Act.

         The first issue for the Court to determine is whether Defendant is eligible for a reduction of sentence under Section 404 of the First Step Act. Section 404 of the First Step Act states:

(a) DEFINITION OF COVERED OFFENSE.-In this section, the term "covered offense" means a violation of a Federal criminal statute, the statutory penalties for which were modified by section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372), that was committed before August 3, 2010.
(b) DEFENDANTS PREVIOUSLY SENTENCED.-A court that imposed a sentence for a covered offense 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 sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372) were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed.
(c) LIMITATIONS.-No court shall entertain a motion made under this section to reduce a sentence if the sentence was previously imposed or previously reduced in accordance with the amendments made by sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372) or if a previous motion made under this section to reduce the sentence was, after the date of enactment of this Act, denied after a complete review of the motion on the merits. ...

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