United States District Court, W.D. Virginia
MICHAEL F. URBANSKI CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Willie Ester Campbell, represented by counsel, filed motions
to reduce his sentence pursuant to the First Step Act of
2018, Pub. L. No. 115-015. ECF Nos. 29, 30. He asks that his
sentence be reduced from 262 months to 188 months, but not
less than time served, which would result in his immediate
release. The government does not contest that Campbell is
eligible for consideration of a reduction of his sentence,
but argues that the court should decline to exercise its
discretion to reduce his sentence because Campbell's
guideline range did not change. The government asserts that
the only relief to which Campbell is entitled is a reduction
in his term of supervised release to 8 years. ECF No. 39. A
hearing was held in this matter on July 31, 2019. For the
reasons set forth below, the court will
GRANT Campbell's request to modify his
sentence to time served. The order will be stayed for up to
ten days to allow the Bureau of Prisons time to process
October 15, 2001, pursuant to a written plea agreement,
Campbell pled guilty to one count of possessing with intent
to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base in violation
of 21 U.S.C § 841(a)(1). The government previously had
filed a written notice of enhanced punishment pursuant to 21
U.S.C. § 851 based on two prior felony drug convictions.
At the plea hearing, the government moved to withdraw one of
the two prior convictions as part of the plea agreement. The
court granted the motion, leaving Campbell with one prior
felony drug conviction. ECF No. 34 at 3, 8-9.
parties stipulated to a drug weight of 124.8 grams of cocaine
base, which resulted in a base offense level of 32.
Campbell's base offense level was decreased by 3 points
for acceptance of responsibility, giving him a subtotal
offense level of 29. Id. at 3. 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.
Id. at 4; U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b)(1). With a
criminal history of VI, his guideline range was 262-327
months. ECF No. 34 at 14; U.S.S.G. Ch. 5, Pt. A. On February
11, 2002, Campbell was sentenced under the then-mandatory
guidelines to a term of 262 months to be followed by a
10-year term of supervised release. ECF No. 24; Min. Entry of
February 11, 2002. Campbell has served approximately 224
months and his projected release date is June 6, 2022. ECF
No. 35 at 3.
time Campbell 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) (1996). 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 Campbell.
Pursuant to the plea agreement where Campbell pleaded guilty
to 124.8 grams of cocaine base, if the Fair Sentencing Act
had been in effect at the time he was sentenced, Campbell
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 U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b)(2);
ECF No. 35. With a criminal history category of VI, the
corresponding advisory range for offense level 31 (without
taking into consideration Campbell's career offender
status) is 188-235 months of imprisonment. ECF No. 35;
U.S.S.G. Ch. 5, Pt. A.
because of Campbell's career offender status, his
guideline range is still 262-327 months. The § 851
enhancement makes Campbell's statutory sentencing range
ten years to life. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B). Because his
maximum statutory sentence is life, his offense level is
still 37, reduced by 3 points for acceptance of
responsibility. U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b)(1). With a criminal
history category of VI, his sentencing range continues to be
262-327 months. U.S.S.G. Ch. 5 Pt. A.
government argues that the court should decline to exercise
its discretion to reduce Campbell's sentence because his
advisory Guidelines sentencing range has not changed. The
government asserts that the only relief to which Campbell is
entitled is a reduction in his term of supervised release to
court finds that it has authority under 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c) to modify Campbell's sentence, taking into
account the advisory nature of the guidelines after
Booker and the considerations set forth in 18
U.S.C. § 3553(a). At the hearing, Campbell produced
evidence that he currently is 58 years old, is remorseful,
has matured a great deal since his incarceration, has a
supportive family and community, and has a housing and
employment plan. In addition, while he has been incarcerated
he has had only two disciplinary infractions since 2008, one
of which was suspended. Also, while incarcerated he has
earned a certificate qualifying him to be an exterminator.
career offender enhancement was based upon two prior crack
cocaine convictions, one in state court and one in federal
court, involving relatively small quantities. In 1994,
Campbell received one year of probation in state court for
selling 1.5 grams of crack cocaine to a confidential
informant. While still on state probation, Campbell was
convicted in federal court for trading $200 in food stamps
for 1.2 grams of crack cocaine and sentenced to 71 months in
the BOP. Campbell was released from federal custody on March
6, 2000, and was arrested on the instant charge less than a
year later, on November 23, 2000. This time around, Campbell
was caught with a much larger quantity of cocaine base, 124.8
grams, and he has spent the last 19 years in prison as a
result of the conviction under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A),
as enhanced under the career offender guideline.
history reveals that, as a young man, he was a recidivist
crack cocaine addict and dealer. The career offender
enhancement he received was based on two relatively small
drug buys, involving 1.5 and 1.2 grams of cocaine base.
Absent the enhancement attributable to the convictions based
on these relatively small prior crack cocaine deals, ...