United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
GLEN E. CONRAD SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Chad David Robinson 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.
February 16, 2012, a grand jury in the Western District of
Virginia returned an indictment against Robinson. Count One
of the indictment charged the defendant with conspiracy to
distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture or substance
containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A), and 846. On September
12, 2012, Robinson entered a plea of guilty to that count.
to sentencing, a probation officer prepared a presentence
investigation report ("PSR"). In the PSR, the
probation officer attributed more than 5 but less than 15
kilograms of methamphetamine to the defendant. That
particular drug quantity and type resulted in a base offense
level of 36 under United States Sentencing Guidelines
("U.S.S.G.") § 2Dl.l(c) (2012). With a
three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility and a
criminal history category of III, Robinson's guideline
range would have been 168 to 210 months of imprisonment.
However, Robinson 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
§ 2D 1.1 was superseded by the higher offense level
determined by the career offender provision. See
U.S.S.G. § 4B 1.1(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,
a criminal history category of VI, and an advisory guideline
range of imprisonment of 262 to 327 months.
appeared for sentencing on December 14, 2012. 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 Robinson's actual criminal history.
Accordingly, the court departed from the applicable guideline
range and "sentence[d] the defendant under the criminal
history category and total offense level he would have
carried without [the] designation as a career offender."
Statement of Reasons 4, Dkt. No. 251. The court ultimately
imposed a term of imprisonment of 168 months, the bottom of
the post-departure range.
2015, the government moved to reduce Robinson's 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 126
same year, Robinson 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
10, 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.
Robinson, No. 16-6708 (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
provision. For the following reasons, the court remains
convinced that the defendant is not eligible for a sentence
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
applicable guideline range in Robinson's case. As
indicated above, § 3 5 82(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 f2010V "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. § IB 1.10(a)(2)(B)). The Guidelines define the
"applicable guideline range" as "the guideline
range that ...