United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division
Michael F. Urbanski, Chief United States District Judge.
matter comes before the court on defendant Guy Harvey
Spruhan's motion and amended motion to reduce his
sentence pursuant to the holding in Hughes v. United
States, 138 S.Ct. 1765 (2018). ECF Nos. 490, 497. The
government responded to the motions on August 31, 2018. ECF
No. 505. The court entered an Order to Respond on January 17,
2019, directing the government to address the arguments
raised by Spruhan. ECF No. 510. The government responded on
April 8, 2019, ECF No. 515, and Spruhan replied on April 16,
2019. ECF No. 516. For the reasons set forth
below, the court DENIES Spruhan's motion
for sentencing relief.
30, 2014, Spruhan entered into a plea agreement pursuant to
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) to Count 1 of
the Indictment, charging him with distributing and possessing
with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and
substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine,
in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(A).
The maximum statutory penalty was a fine of $20 million,
imprisonment for a term of life, plus a term of supervised
release of at least five years. In addition, a mandatory
minimum sentence of imprisonment for a term of twenty years
applied. ECF No. 233, at 1. However, as part of the plea
agreement, the government dismissed a 21 U.S.C. § 851
Information seeking enhancement of his penalty range because
of a prior felony drug conviction. With dismissal of the
§ 851 notice regarding the prior conviction, the
mandatory minimum sentence dropped to ten years. Id.
at 1-4. Pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C), the parties agreed that
Spruhan would be sentenced to a term of incarceration within
the range of 144 months to 180 months if the court accepted
the plea and plea agreement. Id. at 3.
attorney submitted a sentencing memorandum arguing that
Spruhan be sentenced to the low end of the Rule 11(c)(1)(C)
plea agreement range, 144 months, and that he be given credit
for seven months he had spent in state custody on charges of
selling methamphetamine in February 2008. ECF No. 316, at 1.
The government also submitted a sentencing memorandum
recommending that Spruhan be sentenced to the high end of the
sentencing range, 180 months. ECF No. 317, at 13.
Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) assigned Spruhan a
base offense level of 38. He received a two-level enhancement
for using or attempting to use a person under the age of
eighteen to commit the offense. He received a three-level
decrease for acceptance of responsibility, leaving him with a
total offense level of 37. ECF No. 319, at 6-7. He was
assigned the criminal history category of III. Id.
at 9. As a result, Spruhan's sentencing guidelines range
was determined to be 262 to 327 months. Id. at 13.
October 9, 2014 the court sentenced Spruhan to 180 months of
incarceration, to be followed by a five-year term of
supervised release. ECF No. 322. The court imposed a sentence
at the top end of the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) range because
"Spruhan has been unrelenting in his involvement in drug
dealing in this community over a long period of time."
Sent. Tr., ECF No. 431, at 41. The court stated:
The fact of the matter is that while you argue you have
removed yourself from the drug-dealing lifestyle, the
evidence is different from that. So to protect the public, to
provide adequate deterrence to you and to others, to make
sure there's not unwarranted sentencing disparities, to
provide a just sentence for selling this kind of poison in
our community, I believe a sentence at the 180 range, which
when you consider all things together, is a huge break off
the guidelines in this case; and given the dropping of the
851 in this case takes you five years below the mandatory
minimum. I think 180 months is absolutely fair and reasonable
and consistent with the 3553(a) factors in this case.
It takes into account your history. It takes into account
your history and consistent involvement in drugs. It takes
into account your involvement of minor folks in this drug
dealing and drug use. It takes into account the nature and
circumstances of this offense.
Id. at 42.
asserts that he is entitled to the relief afforded by
Hughes to defendants who entered plea agreements
pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C). Hughes held that
defendants who were sentenced pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C)
agreement are eligible for a sentence reduction based on
Amendment 782 to the Sentencing Guidelines range if the
guidelines were part of the framework the district court
relied on in imposing the sentence. Hughes. 138
S.Ct. at 1175.
cleat that in this case that the Sentencing Guidelines
provided a part of the framework upon which the court relied
in imposing Spruhan's sentence as the court expressly
mentioned the guidelines when imposing his sentence. Further,
each side addressed the Sentencing Guidelines in their
sentencing memoranda and argument to ...