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United States v. Spencer

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 26, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ANTWOYN TERRELL SPENCER, Defendant.

          Erica H. MacDonald, United States Attorney, and Michael L. Cheever, Assistant United States Attorney, for plaintiff.

          Antwoyn Terrell Spencer, pro se defendant.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR REDUCED SENTENCE

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM CHIEF JUDGE

         In September 2007, a jury found Defendant Antwoyn Terrell Spencer guilty of three counts of a ten-count indictment: Count 1 - conspiracy to distribute 5 kilograms or more of powder cocaine and 50 grams or more of crack cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 (a)(1) and (b)(1)(A) and 846; Count 4 - attempted possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of powder cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A) and 846; and Count 8 - money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(a)(1)(B)(i). (Indictment at 1-5, May 21, 2007, Docket No. 1 (on file with Court); Jury Verdict, Sept. 18, 2007, Docket No. 144.) At sentencing, the Court determined Spencer's sentencing guideline range to be 324 to 405 months. (Sentencing Tr. at 15-17, Mar. 9, 2009, Docket No. 321.) The Court sentenced Spencer to 324 months' imprisonment and 10 years of supervised release on Counts 1 and 4. (Sentencing J. at 2-3, Jan. 15, 2009, Docket No. 294.) On Count 8, the Court sentenced Spencer to 240 months' imprisonment (the statutory maximum) with 3 years of supervised release. (Id.) The sentences were to be served concurrently. (Id.) Spencer appealed his conviction and sentence, but the Eighth Circuit affirmed. United States v. Spencer, 592 F.3d 866, 882 (8th Cir. 2010).

         Spencer now brings a Motion to Reduce Sentence pursuant to the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 and the First Step Act of 2018 (“First Step Act Motion”). (First Step Act Mot., Apr. 15, 2019, Docket No. 443.) Because Spencer's offenses are not covered by the First Step Act, he is not eligible for a reduction in sentencing, and the Court will deny his First Step Act Motion.

         Spencer has also filed two motions asking the Court to expeditiously process his First Step Act Motion, (Mot., May 10, 2019, Docket No. 451; Mot., May 28, 2019, Docket No. 454); a motion requesting a sentencing hearing, (Mot., June 14, 2019, Docket No. 455); and a motion seeking to amend his First Step Act Motion and asking the Court to stay resolution of his First Step Act Motion pending the outcome of a habeas petition he has filed, (Am. Mot., June 21, 2019, Docket No. 456). The Court will deny these motions as moot.

         DISCUSSION

         I. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), a “court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed, ” with some exceptions. One such exception is when a sentence modification is “expressly permitted by statute.” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B).

         After Spencer was sentenced, Congress enacted the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which increased the amount of crack cocaine needed to trigger certain statutory mandatory minimums. See Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, PL 111-220, Aug. 3, 2010, 124 Stat. 2372. A 10-year mandatory minimum sentence for offenses involving crack cocaine is now triggered by 280 grams, not 50 grams. See Id. (amending 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii)). A 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for offenses involving crack cocaine is now triggered by 28 grams, not 5 grams. See Id. (amending 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(iii)). The Fair Sentencing Act also eliminated the statutory mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine. See Id. (amending 21 U.S.C. § 844(a)). However, the Fair Sentencing Act was not made retroactively applicable to sentences imposed before its enactment.

         In 2018, Congress enacted the First Step Act, which allows a sentencing court to “impose a reduced sentence” on a defendant who committed a “covered offense” as if the Fair Sentencing Act “were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed.” See First Step Act of 2018, PL 115-391, December 21, 2018, 132 Stat 5194, 5222. A “covered offense” is defined by the First Step Act as an offense (1) whose penalty was modified by the Fair Sentencing Act and (2) that was committed before passage of the Fair Sentencing Act. Id.

         The First Step Act does not make a sentence reduction automatic; rather, the defendant, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, an attorney for the United States, or the court itself must move for such a reduction. Id. Furthermore, granting a First Step Act motion is left to the discretion of the court, and a motion for reduced sentence under the First Step Act can only be made once. Id.

         II. SPENCER'S FIRST STEP ACT MOTION

         The jury found Spencer responsible for at least five kilograms of powder cocaine on both Counts 1 and 4, in addition to finding him responsible for at least 50 grams of crack cocaine on Count 1.[1] Because both Counts 1 and 4 involved at least five kilograms of powdered cocaine, they triggered the statutory penalty set by 21 U.S.C. ยง 841(b)(1)(A)(ii), which was not modified by the Fair Sentencing Act. Because the statutory penalties for Spencer's powder cocaine offenses in ...


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