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United States v. Lewis

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

November 7, 2016

APRIL FAY LEWIS, Defendant. Criminal No. 14-CR-66 (2) (RHK/JSM)


          RICHARD H. KYLE United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant's August 31, 2015, Motion for modification or reduction of sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. No. 262.) Defendant's Motion will be denied for the reasons discussed below.


         On March 3, 2014, Defendant April Fay Lewis (“Defendant” or “Lewis”) was named in a twelve-count Indictment charging her with various crimes related to a drug trafficking organization's conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. (Doc. No. 1.) Pursuant to a plea agreement, on June 2, 2014, Defendant appeared with her counsel and pled guilty to Count One of the Indictment. That count of conviction charged her with conspiracy to distribute a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C) and 846. (Doc. No. 117.) In consideration for her plea, the Government agreed not to charge her with additional and more significant drug conspiracy allegations. (Id. at ¶ 1.) Defendant acknowledged that, according to the Advisory Guidelines, she faced up to 188 months imprisonment. (Id. at ¶ 6.) She also understood that if she were to violate any condition of supervised release, she could be sentenced to an additional term of imprisonment up to the length of the original supervised release term of up to three years, subject to the statutory maximums set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3583. (Id. at ¶ 5.) The parties acknowledged the Court would consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines in determining the appropriate sentence. (Id. at ¶ 6.) The Court ordered a Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”) and allowed Defendant to remain out of custody on previously-imposed conditions of release.

         Pretrial services records demonstrated that Defendant did not comply with Court-ordered conditions of release. (PSR at ¶ 5.) Specifically, following her initial release on March 27, 2014, Defendant was ordered to reside at a halfway house. As described above, she pleaded guilty in June 2014, and completed the primary portion of treatment and was participating in aftercare sessions. By July 24, 2014, the release conditions were modified allowing for her discharge from the halfway house and for her to reside in Winona, Minnesota. Defendant continued to participate in aftercare counseling sessions and successfully completed aftercare treatment on August 27, 2014.

         Defendant used methamphetamine approximately two and a half weeks later. (PSR at ¶ 5.) Her supervising officer then placed Defendant on a sweat patch. (Id.) When a sweat patch was removed October 8, 2014, it tested positive for methamphetamine. (Id.) Defendant Lewis denied drug use. (Id.) A second drug testing sweat patch applied on October 22, 2014, was unavailable for testing. (Id.) Defendant appeared on October 29, 2014, to have the sweat patch removed for testing and told staff that it “merely fell off.” (Id.)

         By December 19, 2014, Defendant appeared before this Court due to these violations of her pretrial terms. (Id.) Defendant arrived late, and this Court directed that she immediately reside at a halfway house. However, Defendant absconded during transport to the facility. (Id.) She remained a fugitive until she was arrested on February 23, 2015. (Id.)

         Meanwhile, the PSR itself was completed. The sentencing guideline range contained within the PSR differed slightly from that which was contemplated by the plea agreement because of a greater criminal history categorization than estimated: total offense level of 31, criminal history category IV, and guideline imprisonment range of 151 to 188 months. (PSR at ¶ 107.)[1] The PSR reported the statutory provisions for supervised release require that the Court must impose a term of at least 3 years. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B). (PSR at ¶ 110.) The Guideline Provisions specified a term of supervised release to be no less than that mandated by statute - three years. U.S.S.G. § 5D1.2(c). (PSR at ¶ 111.)

         A sentencing hearing was held on June 6, 2015. The Court adopted the PSR without change. (Doc. No. 226.) The Court's determination provided an advisory guideline range of: total offense level 31, criminal history category IV, and a guideline imprisonment range of 151 to 188 months. (Id.) After reviewing the parties' submissions and hearing argument, the Court sentenced Defendant to 120 months imprisonment and 3 years supervised release. (Doc. No. 225.) Defendant did not file a direct appeal from her conviction or sentence.

         On August 21, 2015, Defendant filed a pro se motion to reduce sentence and modify supervised release term under § 3582(c)(2) and § 3563(b), claiming in a boilerplate prison pleading that her supervised release term should be modified. (Doc. No. 233.) The Government responded to that motion on January 25, 2016 (Doc. No. 244), and the Court denied that request for relief on February 22, 2016. (Doc. No. 245.)

         On or about August 31, 2016, Defendant filed the instant Motion. (Doc. No. 262.) She claims that under Amendment 794 to the Sentencing Guidelines she would now be considered a minor participant in the offense and that, as such, the Court should reduce her sentence. (Id.) For the reasons that follow, her Motion should be denied.

         II. ANALYSIS

         A. General Principles

         1. The ยง 2255 ...

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