United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING AND ORDER ON FIRST STEP ACT MOTION FOR
IMMEDIATE RELEASE OR RESENTENCING
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jones (“Defendant”) moves for his immediate
release or resentencing under Section 404 of the
recently-enacted First Step Act. See First Step Act
Mot. for Immediate Release or Resentencing, ECF No. 2573
(Sept. 5, 2019) (“Def.'s Mot.”); see
also Mem. in Support of Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 2597
(Oct. 7, 2019) (“Def.'s Mem.”). Mr. Jones is
currently serving three concurrent life sentences.
United States of America (the “Government”) has
opposed Mr. Jones's motion. Government's Response to
Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 2618 (Nov. 20, 2019)
reasons explained below, the Court (1)
GRANTS the motion; (2)
ORDERS that Mr. Jones's sentence of
incarceration be REDUCED to TIME
SERVED upon arrival at MDC Brooklyn on
December 23, 2019; and (3)
IMPOSES a term of supervised release of
FIVE (5) YEARS.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
of his involvement with a violent drug trafficking enterprise
in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the late 1990s, Mr. Jones has
been in federal custody since January 2002. See
Docket Entries (Jan. 15, 2002); see also United States v.
Luke Jones, 482 F.3d 60, 63-66 (2d Cir. 2006) (detailing
evidence as to the conspiracy introduced at trial against Mr.
Jones's brother, Luke Jones, in light most favorable to
December 20, 2001, a federal grand jury indicted Mr. Jones
and other alleged members of the drug trafficking enterprise
on various conspiracy charges and racketeering acts.
See Fifth Superseding Indictment, ECF No. 813 (Dec.
November 20, 2002, the Honorable Alan H. Nevas of the United
States District Court for the District of Connecticut (this
“District”) declared a mistrial in the
Government's case against Mr. Jones and other
co-defendants. Jury Trial - Mistrial Declared, ECF No. 1259
(Nov. 20, 2002).
December 3, 2002, the case was transferred to the Honorable
Peter C. Dorsey. Order of Transfer, ECF No. 1263 (Dec. 3,
April 24, 2003, after a month-long trial before Judge Dorsey,
a jury convicted Mr. Jones of violating 18 U.S.C. §
1962(c), Racketeering in Corrupt Organizations
(“RICO”) (Count One); 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d),
RICO Conspiracy (Count Two); 21 U.S.C. §§
841(a)(1), 841 (b)(1)(A), and 846, Conspiracy to Distribute
and Distribution of More Than 1000 Grams of Heroin and 50
Grams of Cocaine Base (Count Six); 18 U.S.C. §
1959(a)(5), Conspiracy to Murder Anthony Scott (Count
Twenty-One). Jury Verdict, ECF No. 1408 (Apr. 24, 2003). The
underlying racketeering acts for Count One's RICO charges
were Racketeering Act 1-D (the “D-Top” Drug
Conspiracy), Racketeering Act 9 (Conspiracy to Murder
Foundation Members and Associates), and Racketeering Act 11-A
(Conspiracy to Murder Anthony Scott). Id. at 2-4. As to
the drug conspiracy charges in Count Six, the jury assigned
to Mr. Jones a quantity of 1000 grams or more of heroin,
id. at 18; at least 1000 grams but less than 5000
grams of cocaine, id. at 19; and at 50 grams or more
of cocaine base, id.
September 3, 2003, Judge Dorsey sentenced Mr. Jones to the
maximum of life imprisonment with no prospect of parole on
Counts One, Two, and Six; ten years imprisonment on Count
Twenty-One; and a special assessment of $400. Judgment, ECF
No. 1493 (Sept. 3, 2003). The terms of imprisonment were to
all run concurrently with each other. Id. Judge
Dorsey also listed the special conditions of supervised
release for Count Twenty-One. Id.
September 22, 2003, Mr. Jones appealed his conviction and
sentence. Notice of Appeal, ECF No. 1507 (Sept. 22, 2003).
2, 2006, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
(the “Second Circuit”) first dismissed the appeal
for failure to prosecute, Mandate of USCA, ECF No. 2065 (June
9, 2006), but then sua sponte reinstated the appeal
and ordered new counsel be appointed under the Criminal
Justice Act, Order of USCA, ECF No. 2066 (June 9, 2006). The
Second Circuit later dismissed the appeal again for failure
to prosecute. Mandate of USCA, ECF No. 2187 (Apr. 16, 2007).
October 20, 2008, ruling on an appeal filed by Mr.
Jones's co-defendant and nephew, Lyle Jones, the Second
Circuit affirmed the judgments of conviction, but remanded
the cases of Lyle Jones and Leonard Jones for resentencing
consistent with United States v. Crosby, 397 F.3d
103 (2d Cir. 2005). United States v. Jones, 296
Fed.Appx. 179, 184 (2d Cir. 2008); see also Mandate
of USCA, ECF No. 2270 (Dec. 29, 2008).
February 3, 2009, Judge Dorsey issued an order to show cause
in which he ordered both Mr. Jones and the Government to show
cause as to whether Mr. Jones “should be brought before
this Court for the purposes of re-sentencing or whether
reconsideration without [his] presence shall be deemed
adequate.” Order to Show Cause, ECF No. 2274 (Feb. 3,
2009). There was no response from either the Government or
Mr. Jones's attorney. See Docket Entries.
April 13, 2009, Judge Dorsey issued another order to show
cause and extended to deadline for either side to respond to
June 1, 2009. Order to Show Cause, ECF No. 2287) Apr. 13,
4, 2009, the Government moved for an extension of time from
June 1, 2009, to June 17, 2009, which the Court granted, but
the Government did not file a memorandum. See Docket
August 4, 2009, without moving for an extension of time or
explaining the untimeliness of the submission, Mr.
Jones's attorney submitted two pages of text in support
of re-sentencing, arguing that Mr. Jones should be
re-sentenced in light of his age (already over age fifty at
the time) and “to avoid unwarranted sentence
disparities[.]”Memorandum, ECF No. 2308 at 1-2 (Aug. 4,
2009). His attorney also waived Mr. Jones's presence at a
resentencing hearing. Id. at 2 (“[I]n the
event that the court decides to reconsider Leonard's
sentence and re-sentence him; such reconsideration and
re-sentencing will not require his presence in
October 5, 2009, Judge Dorsey declined to re-sentence Mr.
Defendant here stands convicted of very serious misconduct
which caused serious negative impact on the community. His
role in the distribution of a vast amount of illegal drugs
must be found to have had a major negative impact on the
lives of users of the drugs. While defendant is not solely
responsible for the effects of the use of the drugs for the
distribution of which he stands convicted, he nonetheless was
a major factor in those affected by their use. Further his
motivation in the role he played in the distribution was the
substantial profit he derived from the sale of drugs to the
extent as was demonstrated in this case. His ruthless pursuit
of the distribution by violence and murder cannot be said to
have any redeeming quality and suggest a real risk of a
return to a life of crime if he is freed from a long
sentence. . . .
What [Defendant] does not recognize is . . . [h]e had a
greater role as the leader of the organization.
of Decision re: Reduction of Sentence, ECF No. 2315 at 2
(Oct. 5, 2009) (“Dorsey Order”).
9, 2016, Mr. Jones moved to vacate, set aside, or vacate his
sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Mot. to Vacate, Set
Aside or Correct Sentence, No. 3:16-cv-706 (VAB), ECF No. 1
(May 9, 2016) (“§ 2255 Mot.”).
December 21, 2018, Congress passed, and the President of the
United States, Donald J. Trump, signed into law, the First
Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, 132 Stat. 5194
(hereafter, the “First Step Act”), which
“made retroactive some provisions of the Fair
Sentencing Act [of 2010, Pub. L. 111-220; 124 Stat.
2372].” United States v. Bobby Medina, No.
3:05-cr-58 (SRU), 2019 WL 3769598, at *2 (D. Conn. July 17,
10, 2019, on grounds unrelated to the First Step Act, this
Court denied Mr. Jones's § 2255 motion because (1)
it was time-barred and (2) even if it was timely, Mr.
Jones's sentence had already been properly reconsidered
by Judge Dorsey when the Second Circuit remanded his direct
appeal. Ruling on § 2255 Mot., No. 3:16-cv-706 (VAB),
ECF No. 8 at 4-7 (May 10, 2019); see Id. at 7
(noting that, at that time, Mr. Jones had “not provided
this Court with any basis, legal or equitable, for reaching a
decision different from his previous resentencing”).
September 5, 2019, Mr. Jones moved for his immediate release
or resentencing under Section 404 of the First Step Act.
September 16, 2019, the U.S. Probation Office filed a
supplemental Pre-Sentencing Report, and took the position
that Mr. Jones was not entitled to relief under the First
Step Act. First Step Act of 2018 Addendum to the Presentence
Report, ECF No. 2578 (Sept. 16, 2019) (“First Step
October 7, 2019, Mr. Jones filed a memorandum in support of
his motion. Def.'s Mem.
November 20, 2019, the Government briefly opposed Mr.
Jones's motion. Gov't Opp.
November 22, 2019, Mr. Jones filed a reply in further support
of his motion. Def.'s Reply Mem. in Support of Def.'s
Mot., ECF No. 2619 (Nov. 22, 2019) (“Def.'s
incarcerated for almost the last twenty years, Mr. Jones has
participated in numerous educational courses, and in the last
six years he has not received a single disciplinary ticket.
Def.'s Mem. at 12 n.19 (referencing an exhibit in the
First Step Act Supplemental PSR - Mr. Jones's Bureau of
Prisons chronological disciplinary record and education
information, ECF No. 2578-9); see also Id.
(“His most recent [disciplinary] ticket, in August
2013, is for failing to stand for count. Leonard's only
other disciplinary ticket within the last 10 years is for
‘being unsanitary or untidy' in 2012. . . . His
most serious offense, possessing intoxicants in 2005 . . .
resulted in a loss of 27 days of good conduct time. No other
infraction resulted in a loss of good conduct time.”).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
in 2018, “Section 404 of the First Step Act authorizes
retroactive application of Sections 2 and 3 of the Fair
Sentencing Act to defendants who were sentenced for crack
cocaine offenses committed prior to August 3, 2010.”
United States v. Jamel Williams (“J.
Williams”), No. 03-CR-795, 2019 WL 3842597, at *2
(E.D.N.Y. Aug. 15, 2019). The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010
“reduced [future] statutory penalties for cocaine
base offenses in order to alleviate the severe sentencing
disparity between crack and powder cocaine.” United
States v. Sampson, 360 F.Supp.3d 168, 169 (W.D.N.Y. Mar.
13, 2019) (internal citations and quotations omitted);
see also Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No.
220; 124 Stat. 2372 (hereafter “Fair Sentencing
section 404 of the First Step Act permits ‘a court that
imposed a sentence for a covered offense' to
‘impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of
the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124
Stat. 2372) were in effect at the time the covered offense
was committed.'” United States v. Lawrence
Williams (“L. Williams&rd ...