United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Lynchburg Division
K. MOON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Norman K. Moon Defendant Cornelius Wallace Hall
(“Defendant”) filed a motion for reduction of
sentence pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018. (Dkt. 68).
Also pending before the Court is Defendant's pro se
letter, (dkt. 67), which the Court may interpret as a motion
seeking a sentence reduction pursuant to Amendment 782 to the
United States Sentencing Guidelines. The matter has been
fully briefed and is ripe for review. The Court will grant
Defendant's motions, reducing his term of imprisonment to
72 months, but not less than time served, to be followed by a
three-year term of supervised release.
was indicted on May 8, 2008, and charged with five counts:
(1) conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to
distribute a mixture or substance containing more than 50
grams of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§
846, 841(a)(1), and 841(b)(1)(A) (Count 1); (2) distribution
of a measurable quantity of a mixture or substance containing
cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1)
and 841(b)(1)(C) (Count 16); and (3) three counts of
distribution or possession with intent to distribute more
than five grams of a mixture or substance containing cocaine
base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and
841(b)(1)(B) (Counts 17, 18, 19). (Dkt. 3). Defendant pled
guilty to Counts 16, 17, 18, and 19. Defendant and the
Government agreed that Defendant would be held responsible
for 53.2 grams of cocaine base for purposes of Sections 2D1.1
and 1B1.3 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. (Dkt.
44 (Plea Agreement) at 1, 4; dkt. 45 (Guilty Plea Form)).
Count 1 was dismissed on motion of the United States. (Dkt.
52). At the time of initial sentencing, the statutory
penalties under Counts 17, 18, and 19 were 5 to 40 years
imprisonment because the drug weight charge on each of the
three counts was for more than 5 grams, which amount was
admitted by Defendant in the Plea Agreement.
original sentencing, the Total Offense Level was 27 and
Defendant's Criminal History Category was V, resulting in
an original Guidelines range of 120 to 150 months. The Court
sentenced Defendant to 120 months imprisonment on each of the
four guilty counts, to be served concurrently, followed by
four years of supervised release on each count, all to run
concurrently. (Dkt. 52 at 3-4). The Judgment ordered that 60
months of the imprisonment sentence would run concurrent with
a State sentence of imprisonment Defendant was serving and
the remaining 60 months would run consecutive to the State
sentence. (Id. at 3).
Court subsequently reduced Defendant's sentence pursuant
to Amendment 750 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Under Amendment 750, Defendant's amended Total Offense
Level became 23 which, with a Criminal History Category of V,
resulted in an amended Guidelines range of 84-105 months. The
Court ordered a reduction in sentence to 84 months, with 60
months to run concurrent with the State sentence and the
remaining 24 months to run consecutive to the State sentence.
was scheduled to be released from State custody to the
Federal Bureau of Prisons on July 8, 2019. (Dkt. 70 at 3).
The Government represents that as of August 5, 2019,
Defendant does not appear in the Bureau of Prisons Inmate
Locator. The Government does not have information on
Defendant's projected release date but states that
presumably he has 23 months left to serve, less good time
credit. (Dkt. 72 at 3). The Court will rule on the pending
Motion to Reduce Sentence Pursuant to the First Step Act of
2018 requests an order reducing his term of imprisonment from
84 months to 70 months or to time served. Defendant asserts
that under Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing
Guidelines (“U.S.S.G.”), Defendant's
Guidelines range would be reduced to 70 to 84 months. (Dkt.
68 at 1, 5). The Government does not contest that Defendant
is eligible for consideration of a reduction in sentence
under both the First Step Act and Amendment 782 but asserts
that Amendment 782 authorizes the Court to reduce his term of
imprisonment only to a sentence within the amended Guidelines
range of 70 to 84 months. (Dkt. 73 at 1, 3-4). The Court will
consider the agreed-upon Amendment 782 Guidelines range as an
advisory range in considering application of the First Step
Defendant's motion for relief under the First Step Act
states that he did not apply for relief under Amendment 782,
the Court notes that Defendant's letter to the Court
(dkt. 67), could be interpreted as a motion for sentence
reduction pursuant to that Amendment, although the letter
does not reference the Amendment. Defendant's First Step
Act motion, however, asserts that even without application of
the First Step Act, his sentence should be reduced to 70
months by Amendment 782, the low end of the new Guidelines
range of 70-84 months, arguing that the result should be
time-served. (Dkt. 68 at 1, 3, 5-6). The Court directed the
Government to address the application of Amendment 782 in its
response. (Dkt. 71). The Government responded by stating that
it did not contest that Defendant is eligible for
consideration of a reduction in sentence under the terms of
the First Step Act and Amendment 782. (Dkt. 73 at 1).
782 reduced by two levels those offense levels assigned to
drug quantities in U.S.S.G. §§ 2D1.1 and 2D1.11.
U.S.S.G. App. C., amend. 782 (Supp. 2014). A district court
may reduce a sentence in the case of a defendant who has been
sentenced based on a Guidelines range that has subsequently
been lowered by the Sentencing Commission after considering
the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), to the
extent they are applicable, if such a reduction is consistent
with applicable policy statements of the Sentencing
Commission. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The applicable
policy statements include U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10, which makes
Amendment 782 retroactively applicable in a case in which a
defendant is serving a term of imprisonment.
Parties agree that applying Amendment 782's two-level
reduction results in a new amended Total Offense Level of 21
which, with a Criminal History Category of V, results in an
new amended Guidelines range of 70-87 months, reduced to
70-84 months as Defendant is currently serving an 84-month
term of imprisonment. For the reasons set out below with
respect to application of the First Step Act, the Court finds
Amendment 782 applies to Defendant.