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United States v. Brown

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

February 23, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
COREY BROWN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR REDUCTION OF SENTENCE PURSUANT TO 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)

          HON. VANESSA L. BRYANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant Corey Brown (“Brown”) moves for a reduction of his sentence, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and based on several amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines (the “Guidelines”), including Amendments 750, 759, and 780. For the reasons that follow, the Defendant's motion is DENIED.

         I. Factual Background

         On July 25, 2006, Defendant Brown was sentenced to a term of 180 months imprisonment, following a plea of guilty to the charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base/crack. [Dkt. 66 (Judgment); Dkt. 71 (Transcript of Sentencing)]. The plea agreement stipulated that (1) Brown's conduct involved in excess of 150 grams of crack cocaine; (2) Brown was a career offender pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1; (3) Brown's applicable guideline sentencing range was between 262 and 327 months; imprisonment based on a base offense level of 37, a total offense level of 34 (after a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility) and a criminal history category VI based on his career offender classification. [Dkt. 82 (Ruling on Mot. to Alter or Amend J.) at 2.]

         At sentencing, the Court agreed with that calculation, and found that Brown's total offense level was 34 and his criminal history category was VI. [Dkt. 71.] While his total offense level was originally found to be 37, Brown was awarded a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility. Id. As a result, the Guideline range for Brown's sentence was 262-327 months. Id. The Court made clear at sentencing that Brown was sentenced under the career offender guidelines, stating “[o]n the question of career offender, I believe that Mr. Brown qualifies for that category. . . . Mr. Brown's, he's been involved in one way or another with drugs for too long. And he has now come to the point where he has to acknowledge that, and understand that his history and the facts of this particular situation require a serious sentence, and that sentence, the guidelines are 262 to 327 months.” [Dkt. 71 at 23-25.]

         After determining the applicable sentence under the career offender guideline, the Court granted the Government's motion under Section 5K for a departure in light of Defendant's substantial assistance, sentencing him to a term of 180 months. [Id. at 25; Dkt. 72 (Amended Judgment) at 1 (amending the judgment by including statement: “The Court departs downward pursuant to government's motion”)].

         After unsuccessfully appealing his sentence, Brown filed a motion for reduction of sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), requesting that the Court resentence him under Guidelines Amendment 706, which applies to crack cocaine offenses. [Dkt. 74]. On March 27, 2008, the sentencing Court denied the motion, explaining that “Defendant was sentenced as a career offender and his guideline range is not affected by the November 1, 2007 amendments.” [Dkt. 77 at 1]. On April 10, 2012, Brown filed another motion, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e), challenging his career offender classification. [Dkt. 79]. The motion was denied on procedural grounds, and the denial was affirmed on appeal. [Dkts. 82, 85].

         While the sentencing Court denied Brown's second motion on procedural grounds, the sentencing Court also took the opportunity to clearly explain to Brown the basis for his sentence: “At sentencing on July 25, 2006, this Court found that Brown was a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 and that his applicable guideline sentencing range was 262 to 327 months. However, based on the government's motion for a downward departure, the Court sentenced Brown to 180 months' imprisonment, a non-guidelines sentence that was 82 months below the bottom of his applicable guideline range.” [Dkt. 82 at 2.] The Court also reminded Brown that his prior motion for resentencing under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) was denied “based on the fact that Brown was sentenced as a career offender and thus his guideline sentencing range was not affected by Amendment 706. . . . The Court denied Brown's motion for a sentence reduction under the November 1, 2007 amendment to the sentencing guidelines' base offense levels for crack cocaine offenses (“Amendment 706”) because Brown was originally sentenced under the career offender guidelines, which were not affected by Amendment 706, and thus the reduced crack-cocaine guidelines did not apply in this case.” Id. at 2, 5.

         Particularly relevant here, the sentencing Court also said resentencing would not be appropriate under the “Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 and Amendment 750 to the Sentencing Guidelines, which again retroactively altered guideline § 2D1.1 to reduce the offense levels that apply to crack cocaine offenses. As before, Brown is not eligible for a reduced sentence under this amendment to the crack cocaine guideline because his original sentence was not based on the crack-cocaine guidelines, but was based on the career offender guidelines which were not affected by Amendment 750.” Id. at 6.

         II. Standard of Law

         A court may modify a sentence already imposed “in the case of a defendant who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). “A sentence is “based on” a sentencing range that has been lowered within the meaning of Section 3582(c)(2) when the range is calculated by starting with a base offense level” which was later decreased. United States v. Lopez, 2012 WL 4580880, at *2 (D. Conn. Oct. 1, 2012) (emphasis in original). “A reduction in [a] defendant's term of imprisonment . . . is not authorized under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) if . . . [the] amendment . . . does not have the effect of lowering the defendant's applicable guideline range.” U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(a)(2)(B). Any reduction in sentence under Section 3582(c)(2) must also be consistent with the Sentencing Commission's applicable policy statements. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2); Dillon v. United States, 130 S.Ct. 2683, 2692-93 (2010).

         III. Analysis

         Brown asserts his sentence should be reduced under Guidelines Amendments 750, 759, and 780. He also asserts he was sentenced under U.S.S.G. Section 5K, pertaining to substantial assistance, rather than the career offender statute, and should be resentenced on that basis. Finally, Brown asserts that when considering what reduced sentence is appropriate, the Court should consider his productivity while incarcerated, including earning his GED, completing multiple other classes, and voluntarily completing behavioral modification programs. The Court addresses Brown's arguments for a sentence reduction in turn below. Because the Court finds no sentence reduction warranted, the Court does not determine what reduction would be appropriate in light of Brown's behavior while incarcerated. However, the Court commends Brown for his endeavors.

         a. Amendments 750, 759, And 780 Do Not Allow A ...


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