United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
GLEN E. CONRAD SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael Elwood Groseclose 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 will be denied.
September 5, 2013, a grand jury in the Western District of
Virginia returned an indictment against Groseclose. The
defendant ultimately entered a plea of guilty to Count One
of. the indictment, which charged him with conspiracy to
manufacture 50 grams or more of a mixture or substance
containing methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C.
§§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B), and 846. As permitted
by Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal
Procedure, the parties agreed that the defendant should be
sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 125 months.
to sentencing, a probation officer prepared a presentence
investigation report ("PSR"). In the PSR, the
probation officer attributed at least 50 grams of
methamphetamine to the defendant. This particular drug
quantity and type resulted in a base offense level of 26
under U.S.S.G. § 2Dl.l(c) (2013). With a two-level
enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2Dl.l(b)(12), a three-level
reduction for acceptance of responsibility, and a criminal
history category of VI, the defendant's guideline range
would have been 110 to 137 months of imprisonment. However,
Groseclose was also found to qualify as 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§ 2D1.1 was superseded by the higher offense level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.
§ 4Bl.l(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 31 and an advisory
guideline range of imprisonment of 188 to 235 months.
appeared for sentencing on April 25, 2014. 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. The court ultimately
departed from the advisory guideline range and imposed a term
of imprisonment of 125 months, as agreed to by the parties
pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C).
through counsel, has filed a motion for reduction of sentence
pursuant to § 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
relies 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. Although Amendment
782 did not affect his guideline range as a career offender,
the defendant argues that the drug quantity guidelines were
nonetheless part of the framework that the court considered
in imposing his sentence. See Hughes v. United
States, 138 S.Ct. 1765, 1775 (2018) (holding that a
sentence imposed pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) agreement is
'"based on' the defendant's Guidelines
range" for purposes of § 3582(c)(2), "so long
as that range was part of the framework the district court
relied on in imposing the sentence or accepting the
agreement"). Groseclose also argues that he would no
longer qualify as a career offender if he were sentenced
today, and that this also militates in favor of a reduced
sentence. For the following reasons, the court concludes that
the defendant is not eligible for a sentence reduction under
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. § IB 1.10(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 corresponds to the offense level and criminal
history category determined pursuant to § IB 1.1 (a),
which is determined before consideration of any departure
provision in the Guidelines Manual." U.S.S.G. §
1B1.10 cmt. n.1(A).
applied here, the "applicable guideline range" is
the career offender range of 188 to 235 months derived from
§ 4B1.1 of the Sentencing Guidelines. Amendment 782, on
which Groseclose relies, "did not lower the offense
levels applicable to career offenders" in § 4B1.1.
United States v. Akers, 892 F.3d 432, 434 (D.C. Cir.
2018). Instead, "it impacted only offense levels
calculated under the drug trafficking guideline, U.S.S.G.
§ 2D1.1." hi Although the court ultimately departed
from the career offender range at sentencing, "the
'applicable guideline range' remains the original
pre-departure range." United States v. Webb,
760 F.3d 513, 520 (6th Cir. 2014); see also United States
v. Muldrow, 844 F.3d 434, 441 (4th Cir. 2016) (agreeing
with the Sixth Circuit that "'defendant's
applicable guideline range under U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10 is
his pre-departure guideline range'") (quoting
United States v. Pembrook, 609 F.3d 381, 385 (6th
Cir. 2010)). Because the career offender range has not been
lowered by any retroactively-applicable amendments to the
Sentencing Guidelines, Groseclose is not eligible for a
sentence reduction under § 3582(c)(2). See United
States v. Hall 627, Fed.Appx. 266, 267 (4th Cir. 2016)
("[B]ecause Hall was sentenced as a career offender (a
Guidelines range from which the district court departed
downward at sentencing), Amendment 782 did not lower his
applicable Guidelines range, and he is therefore not eligible
for a sentence reduction.").
Supreme Court's decision in Hughes does not
affect this result. Although Hughes established that
Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreements are often based on the
defendant's guideline range for purposes of a §
3582(c)(2) motion, it did not alter the requirement that a
reduction must be "consistent with the applicable policy
statements issued by the Sentencing Commission." 18
U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). As indicated above, "[a]
sentence reduction is not authorized if a Guidelines
amendment 'does not have the effect of lowering the
defendant's applicable guideline range.'"
United States v. Young, No. 18-7275, 2019 U.S. App.
LEXIS 17377, at *2 (4th Cir. June 11, 2019) (quoting U.S.S.G.
§ IB 1.10(a)(2)(B)). Because Amendment 782 did not have
the effect of lowering the defendant's applicable
guideline range as a career offender, "he is not
eligible for the requested sentence modification under §
3582(c)(2)." United States v. Gilchrist, 752
Fed.Appx. 681, 682 (10th Cir. 2019) (decided
post-Hughes): see also Young. 2019 U.S.
App. LEXIS 17377, at *3 (emphasizing that Amendment 782 had
no effect on the applicable guideline range in the
defendant's case since it "did not change the career
offender enhancement in U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1," and that
"other circuit courts have rejected similar arguments
post-Hughes") (citing Akers, 892 F.3d
to the extent that Groseclose seeks to challenge the validity
of the career offender enhancement, "a § 3582(c)(2)
proceeding is not an appropriate vehicle for such a
challenge." United States v. Foster. 714
Fed.Appx. 285, 286 (4th Cir. 2018); see also Dillon.
560 U.S. at 825-27 (explaining that § 3582(c)(2)
authorizes sentence reductions only within the narrow bounds
established by the Sentencing Commission and does not
authorize a full resentencing); United States v.
Warner. No. 18-40822, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 17139, at *3
(5th Cir. June 7, 2019) (holding that a § 3582(c)(2)
motion was not the proper vehicle for the defendant to
challenge whether he still qualifies as a career offender);
United States v. Goldman. 693 Fed.Appx. 817, 820
(11th Cir. 2017) (holding that the defendant's arguments
challenging his status as a career offender were "not
cognizable in a § 3582(c)(2) proceeding").
of these reasons, the court concludes that defendant is not
eligible for a sentence reduction under § 3582(c)(2).