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United States v. Gray

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

December 11, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ROY W. GRAY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORMAN K. MOON, JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Roy W. Gray's Motion to Reduce Sentence Pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018. Dkt. 318. Defendant contends that he is “Immediate Release Eligible.” This Court concludes that Defendant has not demonstrated entitlement to a reduction in his sentence, and therefore Defendant's First Step Act Motion will be denied.

         Background

         On January 18, 2000, Defendant was charged on a superseding indictment with, among other counts, one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. Dkt 321 at 1; Dkt. 318 at 1-2; Dkt. 312 at 3.

         On May 15, 2000, the Government filed an Information providing notice of a sentencing enhancement under 21 U.S.C. § 851, on account of a prior felony drug conviction. Dkt. 321 at 1- 2; Dkt. 312 at 3. The § 851 enhancement increased the minimum penalty for Defendant's offense from 10 years to 20 years. Dkt. 321 at 1-2; Dkt. 318 at 2. That day, Defendant pleaded guilty with the benefit of a plea agreement to the one count of conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base. Dkt. 318 at 1-2; Dkt. 312 at 3; Dkt. 105, 106.

         On August 29, 2000, the Government moved for a downward departure at sentencing based upon Defendant's substantial assistance. This Court granted the motion and sentenced Defendant to 162 months' imprisonment, followed by a ten-year term of supervised release. Dkt. 162 at 2-3. Defendant served his sentence and was then released from the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. Dkt. 318 at 2.

         On June 16, 2014, after his release from custody but still on supervised release, Defendant was indicted in Charlottesville Circuit Court on two counts of distribution of cocaine; he subsequently was arrested and pleaded guilty to both state charges. Dkt. 279. On October 10, 2014, Defendant's probation officer petitioned this Court to revoke Defendant's term of supervised release on account of his two convictions. Dkt. 279, 280. On March 6, 2017, this Court revoked Defendant's supervised release and imposed a sentence of 48 months' imprisonment. Dkt. 299. As of the date of this Memorandum Opinion, Defendant is currently incarcerated. The Federal Bureau of Prisons website calculates his release date will be June 16, 2020. Dkt. 321 at 2.[1]

         In May 2019, Defendant filed a motion seeking a reduction in sentence pursuant to the First Step Act, followed in August 2019 by Defendant's Amended Motion to Reduce Sentence, which is under consideration here. Dkt. 311, 318. The Government filed an opposition brief in October 2019 and Defendant filed a reply thereafter.[2] The Government has since filed a Notice of Supplemental Authority. Dkt. 324. The matter is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

         Legal Framework

         Section 404(b) of the First Step Act, the provision under which Defendant seeks relief, states that:

Defendants Previously Sentenced.-A court that imposed a sentence for a covered offense may, on motion of the defendant, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, the attorney for the Government, or the court, impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372) were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed.

         Pub. L. No. 115-391, § 404, 132 Stat. 5194, 5222. The First Step Act defines a “covered offense” as “a violation of a Federal criminal statute, the statutory penalties for which were modified by [S]ection 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, that was committed before August 3, 2010.” Id. § 404(a), 132 Stat. at 5222. A later provision, Section 404(c), further states that “[n]othing in this section shall be construed to require a court to reduce any sentence pursuant to this section.” Id. § 404(c), 132 Stat. at 5222. A district court's decision whether to afford relief to an eligible defendant under the First Step Act is a discretionary one. United States v. Wirsing, 943 F.3d 175, 186 (4th Cir. 2019).

         Modifications of sentences pursuant to the First Step Act are governed by 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B), which states that “[t]he court may modify an imposed term of imprisonment to the extent otherwise expressly permitted by statute or by Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.” See also Wirsing, 943 F.3d at 183 (“We hold that § 3582(c)(1)(B) is the appropriate vehicle for a First Step Act motion.”). And, in determining a defendant's eligibility under § 3582(c)(1)(B), a court “must look to the applicable statute to determine ‘the extent' to which modification is ‘expressly permitted by [that] statute.'” Wirsing, 943 F.3d at 185 (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B)).

         Covered ...


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