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United States v. Pomales

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio

July 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
NORMAN POMALES, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER [RESOLVING DOCS. 501]

          JAMES S. GWIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In February 2004, a federal jury convicted Defendant Norman Pomales of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and/or cocaine base (“crack cocaine”).[1] On the verdict form, the jury found that Pomales possessed “5 or more kilograms” of cocaine and “50 or more grams” of crack cocaine.[2]

         At his sentencing hearing, the Court found that Defendant possessed between two and four kilograms of crack cocaine and set his offense level at 40.[3] The sentencing guidelines recommended a sentence of 360 months to life.[4] Departing downward, the Court sentenced Pomales to 240 months imprisonment.[5]

         Defendant now asks the Court to reduce his sentence under the recently enacted First Step Act of 2018.[6] For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion.

         Discussion

          The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced crack cocaine sentences[7] and the First Step Act of 2018 made those reductions retroactive.[8] The question here is whether, considering these changes, the Court should resentence Pomales.

         The Court first considers changes in Pomales' statutory sentencing limits. The jury found that Pomales' possessed at least fifty grams of crack cocaine.[9] At the time, this required the Court to sentence Pomales to between ten years and life imprisonment. Now, Pomales' conviction requires a sentence between five and forty years.[10]

         The Court also considers changes in the sentencing guidelines. The Court found Pomales possessed between two and four kilograms of crack cocaine, setting Pomales offense level at 40.[11] Under the new guidelines, he would likely have an offense level of either 36 or 38.[12] This would produce either a 210-262 or 262-327-month range.[13]

         Accordingly, Pomales is eligible for relief. However, resentencing remains within this Court's discretion.[14] For several reasons, the Court declines to reduce Defendant's sentence.

         First, Defendant's twenty-year sentence remains within the statutory limits. Further, even with the changes, Defendant's sentence remains either below or within the new sentencing guideline recommendation. Finally, considering the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) sentencing factors, the Court believes that Pomales' sentence is correct.[15]

         Separately, Pomales argues that the Court should not have concluded he possessed between two and four kilograms of crack cocaine when the jury only found he possessed at least fifty grams. In support, he cites Alleyne v. United States, where the Supreme Court held that only a jury can find facts that enhance a defendant's mandatory minimum sentence.[16]However, here, the Court's findings did not increase Pomales' mandatory minimum, only his guidelines' range, which Alleyne permits.[17]

         For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion to reduce his sentence.

         IT IS ...


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