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United States v. Burns

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 21, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Michael Anthony Burns, Defendant.

          Michael L. Cheever, Assistant United States Attorney, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.

          Michael Anthony Burns, pro se.

          Robert H. Meyers, Assistant Federal Defender, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Defendant.

          ORDER

          ANN D. MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the undersigned United States District Judge for a ruling on Defendant Michael Anthony Burns' (“Burns”) Motion to Adjust Sentence Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) [Docket No. 74]. Burns requests a reduction of his sentence in light of 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B) and Section 404 of the First Step Act (“FSA”). For the reasons set forth below Burns' Motion is granted in part.

         II. BACKGROUND

         On August 2, 2006, Burns entered a plea of guilty to possession with intent to distribute in excess of 50 grams of cocaine base (Count 3), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 (a)(1) and (b)(1)(A). The statutory penalty for Count 3 was 10 years to life imprisonment and at least 5 years supervised release. The Plea Agreement [Docket No. 28] states that Burns and the government agreed that “on or about May 2, 2006” Burns did possess with the intent to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base or “crack.” The parties agreed that the weight of the cocaine base possessed “during the period of the conspiracy is between 150 and 500 grams.” Id. at 3. The government also negotiated a waiver of right to appeal the sentence “in the event the court accepts the plea agreement and sentences the defendant at or below 210 months imprisonment.” Id. at 7.

         On November 8, 2006, Burns was sentenced to 210 months and 5 years of supervised release. The applicable advisory guideline range was 262-327 months based on a total offense level of 34, with a criminal history Category VI. Statement of Reasons, 11/14/2006. The Court used the Sentencing Guidelines in an advisory fashion. Id. The Court's reason for a substantial downward departure from the Guidelines was that “[g]iven the defendant's history and medical condition, and for other reasons stated on the record, a sentence of 210 months is reasonable and consistent with the considerations for sentencing expressed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553.”

         Since being in custody, Burns' disciplinary record has been clean, and he has earned a significant amount of good conduct credit. He has also taken advantage of many educational opportunities offered by the Bureau of Prisons. Without any good conduct credits, Burns' release date would be October 30, 2023.

         Burns now moves under the First Step Act of 2018 to reduce his sentence to time served. The Government does not oppose a sentence reduction, but argues Burns' sentence should be reduced to 192 months rather than time served.

         III. DISCUSSION

         The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced sentencing disparities between individuals convicted of crack cocaine crimes and those of powder cocaine crimes. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii). The Fair Sentencing Act increased the amount of crack cocaine needed to trigger the penalties of § 841(b)(1)(A) from 50 grams to 280 grams of crack and the penalties of § 841(b)(1)(B) from 5 grams to 28 grams. When it was initially passed, Congress did not make the Fair Sentencing Act retroactive, which means that individuals sentenced before enactment were not considered for relief from the statutory penalties under which they were sentenced. This recently changed. The First Step Act of 2018 expressly permits the Court to consider a sentence reduction for individuals sentenced before 2010. It states:

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 ...

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