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United States v. Lucas

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division

December 10, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
DIRRICK DELONT LUCAS, Defendant

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Hon. Michael F. Urbanski, Chief United States District Judge

         Dirrick Delont Lucas, represented by counsel, filed a motion to reduce his sentence pursuant to Section 404(b) of the First Step Act of 2018 ("the Act"). ECF No. 69. In 2012 Lucas discharged his underlying sentence of 120 months and began serving a term of supervised release. He was arrested on additional charges and sentenced to a term of 48 months, and also sentenced to a consecutive 60-month term for violation of the conditions of supervised release on the instant case. Lucas seeks a reduction of his original 120-month sentence under the Act. In the alternative, he seeks a reduction of his term of supervised release. The government asserts that Lucas is ineligible for consideration of a reduction in his sentence because he is not currently serving a term for a covered offense under the First Step Act and also asserts that granting him relief would serve no reasonable sentencing objective. In addition, the government argues that Lucas is not eligible for relief under the Act because the drug weight for which he was held responsible disqualifies him for relief.

         For the reasons set forth below, the court finds that Lucas is eligible for a reduction in his term of incarceration based on the revocation of supervised release. However, while Lucas is eligible for First Step Act consideration, the court exercises its discretion under the Act to DENY Lucas's motion to reduce the 60-month term of incarceration he is serving for a violation of the terms of his supervised release.

         BACKGROUND

         On June 24, 2004, Lucas entered into a plea agreement where he pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (Count 1) and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) (Count 3). Five other counts were dismissed. ECF No. 30. Pursuant to 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(b)(1)(A), Lucas faced a statutory sentencing range of 10 years to life on Count 1 and a statutory maximum of 10 years on Count 3. ECF No. 70.

         Based on 1.49 kilograms of cocaine base, Lucas had a guidelines base offense level of 36 and received a 2-point increase for possessing a firearm in connection with narcotics trafficking and a 3-point decrease for acceptance of responsibility, giving him a subtotal offense level of 35. He also was found to qualify as a career offender, which gave him an offense level of 38, decreased by 3 points for acceptance of responsibility to 35. Thus, his total offense level was 35. He had a criminal history category of VI, making his guideline range for imprisonment 292 to 365 months. U.S.S.G. Ch. 5 Pt. A; ECF No. 70. The government filed a motion for substantial assistance on March 10, 2005. ECF No. 34.

         On May 18, 2005 Lucas was sentenced to 150 months on Count 1 and 120 months on Count 3, to run concurrently, and a 5-year term of supervised release. ECF No. 40. On June 30, 2008, Lucas was granted a sentence reduction based on an amendment to the sentencing guidelines and was resentenced to a total of 120 months. ECF No. 49.

         On September 25, 2012, Lucas completed his sentence and began his 5-year term of supervised release. On August 13, 2014, a petition for warrant or summons was issued for Lucas following his arrest for being a convicted felon carrying a concealed weapon and buying or receiving stolen goods. ECF No. 50. Pursuant to a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement, on April 1, 2015 the court revoked Lucas's supervised release and sentenced him to 60 months, to run consecutively to a 48-month sentence imposed by this court in United States v. Lucas, No. 5:14-CR-038 (W.D. Va. April 2, 2015).[1]

         No additional term of supervised release was imposed in the instant case. Lucas's current projected release date is December 27, 2022.

         APPLICABLE LAW

         I. First Step Act

         At the time Lucas was sentenced, a violation of § 841(a)(1) carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum sentence 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) (2006). In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act was passed, 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.

         The 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).

         It is undisputed that Lucas committed his offense before August 3, 2010, and his offense carries the statutory penalties which were modified by Section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act. Nevertheless, the government asserts that because Lucas is serving a sentence related to violation of the terms of his supervised release rather than for his underlying drug conviction, he is not serving time for a covered offense under the First Step Act and this court lacks jurisdiction to consider his motion. The government further argues that no reasonable sentencing objective would be served by reducing his original sentence to allow him to receive credit against his current revocation sentence. In addition, the government argues that Lucas is not eligible for relief under the Act because the drug weight for which he was held ...


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