United States District Court, D. Minnesota
N. ERICKSEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case is before the Court on Defendant's motion for a
reduced sentence under the First Step Act of 2018. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court grants the motion and
imposes a sentence of 276 months' imprisonment and 8
years' supervised release.
2003, a United States grand jury charged Defendant with one
count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute in excess of 50 grams of a substance containing a
detectable amount of cocaine base. In April 2004, a jury
found him guilty. In October 2004, the Court determined that
Defendant is a career offender, see U.S.S.G. §
4B1.1, and sentenced him to 360 months' imprisonment and
10 years' supervised release. Defendant appealed. The
Eighth Circuit affirmed his conviction, vacated his sentence,
and remanded for resentencing consistent with United
States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005). United States
v. McElrath, 133 Fed.Appx. 338 (8th Cir. 2005). On
remand, the Court sentenced Defendant to 300 months'
imprisonment and 10 years' supervised release. Defendant
appealed, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed. United States
v. McElrath, 238 Fed.Appx. 186 (8th Cir. 2007) (per
recently moved for a reduced sentence under the First Step
Act of 2018. He sought a sentence of 240 months'
imprisonment and 8 years' supervised release. The United
States agreed that Defendant is eligible for a reduced
sentence. The United States supported a reduction of
his sentence to 276 months' imprisonment and 8 years'
“court may not modify a term of imprisonment once it
has been imposed” except that the court may modify an
imposed term of imprisonment to the extent “expressly
permitted by statute.” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B).
Under the First Step Act of 2018, “[a] court that
imposed a sentence for a covered offense may, on motion of
the defendant …, impose a reduced sentence as if
sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 were in
effect at the time the covered offense was committed.”
Pub. L. No. 115-391, § 404(b), 132 Stat. 5194, 5222
(citation omitted). “[T]he term ‘covered
offense' means a violation of a Federal criminal statute,
the statutory penalties for which were modified by section 2
or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, that was committed
before August 3, 2010.” Id. § 404(a)
(citation omitted). “Nothing in this section shall be
construed to require a court to reduce any sentence pursuant
to this section.” Id. § 404(c).
2 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 increased the quantity
of cocaine base that triggers certain mandatory minimum
sentences. The quantity was increased from 50 grams to 280
grams for 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) to apply and from 5
grams to 28 grams for 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B) to apply.
Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. 111-220, § 2(a),
124 Stat. 2372, 2372.
First Step Act grants a district judge limited authority to
consider reducing a sentence previously imposed. The
calculations that had earlier been made under the Sentencing
Guidelines are adjusted ‘as if' the lower drug
offense sentences were in effect at the time of the
commission of the offense. That is the only explicit basis
stated for a change in the sentencing.” United
States v. Hegwood, No. 19-40117, 2019 WL 3729590, at *4
(5th Cir. Aug. 8, 2019). “The mechanics of First Step
Act sentencing are these. The district court decides on a new
sentence by placing itself in the time frame of the original
sentencing, altering the relevant legal landscape only by the
changes mandated by the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act. The
district court's action is better understood as imposing,
not modifying, a sentence, because the sentencing is being
conducted as if all the conditions for the original
sentencing were again in place with the one exception.”
the Court sentenced Defendant in October 2004, the Court
determined that his guideline range of imprisonment is 360
months to life and sentenced him to 360 months'
imprisonment. The Supreme Court subsequently decided
Booker. The Eighth Circuit vacated Defendant's
sentence and remanded for resentencing.
Defendant's resentencing, the Court concluded again that
Defendant is a career offender under the sentencing
guidelines, see U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, and that his
guideline range of imprisonment is 360 months to life. The
Court rejected his request for a sentence of 240 months'
imprisonment, the mandatory minimum. The Court determined a
term of imprisonment of less than 360 months would accomplish
the purposes of sentencing and sentenced him to 300
months' imprisonment. The Court explained:
I can't go right to 240 [months] and disregard the
guidelines. That's not the way it works. But I don't
think that you need the full 360 months.
I'm going to give you a sentence of 300 months, so
that's five years off the bottom end of the guidelines.
And I'm doing that because the offense of conviction is
one that just doesn't seem to me to require a life
sentence. And I think that you are making strides for the
first time in your life to take personal responsibility for
what's happened, and that's the best indication of
what's going to happen when you get out.
So I mean we've all read your history. We all know what
the dates are and when you got arrested and everything, but
hopefully, you are on your way to a new level of maturity, so
it's still a really long sentence which I think you
understand it has to be ….
the First Step Act of 2018, Defendant is eligible for a
reduced sentence. He is subject to term of imprisonment of at
least 10 years and not more than life and to a term of
supervised release of at least 8 years. His guideline range
of imprisonment remains 360 months to life. Defendant has
served approximately 16 years of his sentence. As of April
2019, his disciplinary record consists of one incident:
insolence toward a staff member. He has completed
nonresidential drug treatment, and he has an extensive record
of education courses in topics such as German, special
medical needs, chronic care, and health/fitness/diet.
Considering Defendant's crime, criminal history, and
conduct during his imprisonment, as well as the