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United States v. Taylor

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 27, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
MARIO TAYLOR, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the Motion (Doc. 216) of Defendant Mario Taylor to Reduce Sentence Under Section 404 of the First Step Act. For the following reasons, the Motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND FACTS

         On February 6, 2007, Defendant pleaded guilty to Count 1, Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine Base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 841(b)(1)(B); and Count 4, Possession of Cocaine Base with Intent to Distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(iii). Regarding Count 1, Defendant admitted in his Plea Agreement to possessing 42.03 grams of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”). With respect to Count 4, Defendant admitted to possessing between 5 and 50 grams of crack cocaine. On May 7, 2007, the Court sentenced Defendant to 262 months imprisonment and 8 years supervised release.

         On December 21, 2018, President Trump signed into law the First Step Act of 2018.[1]Section 404 of the First Step Act “applies retroactively the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 which reduced mandatory minimum penalties for crack cocaine offenses.”[2]

         On March 11, 2019, Defendant filed his Motion seeking relief under the First Step Act. (Doc. 216). The Government filed its Opposition on March 21, 2019. (Doc. 217).

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         Generally, federal courts may not modify an individual's term of imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). An exception to this general rule is contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B). Under this Section, a court may “modify an imposed term of imprisonment to the extent otherwise permitted by statute...” Id. at § 3582(c)(1)(B). The First Step Act of 2018 is such a statute that permits the modification of an individual's term of imprisonment.[3]

         “A court that imposed a sentence for a ‘covered offense' may...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.” First Step Act of 2018, PL 115-391, Dec. 21, 2018, 132 Stat 5194 (hereafter “First Step Act”), § 404(b) (internal citations omitted). A “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. at § 404(a) (internal citations omitted).

         There are a few limitations before a court may reduce a sentence under the First Step Act. Specifically, a court cannot reduce a sentence (1) if the court previously reduced defendant's sentence under the Fair Sentencing Act; or (2) if a defendant previously moved under the First Step Act and a court denied the defendant's motion on the merits. Id. at § 404(c). Further, a court's decision to reduce a sentence is discretionary with the Court. Id. (“Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a court to reduce any sentence pursuant to this section”).

         B. Applicability of First Step Act

         The First Step Act applies to Defendant. Defendant committed a “covered offense” in that he pleaded guilty to a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841. Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act increased the drug quantities triggering mandatory minimums for crack cocaine offenses. Further, Defendant committed the offense before August 3, 2010. Finally, the Court has neither (1) reduced Defendant's sentence under the Fair Sentencing Act; nor (2) denied a previous motion of Defendant under the First Step Act. Accordingly, Defendant is eligible for a reduced sentence under the First Step Act.

         C. Reduction of Sentence Under 18 U.S.C. ...


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