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United States v. Hodge

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

August 2, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent,
v.
PAUL A. HODGE, Petitioner.

          OPINION & ORDER

          ALGENON L. MARBLEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Paul A. Hodge's Motion for Reduction of Sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. (ECF No. 32). This motion is fully briefed and ripe for review. For the reasons set forth below, Mr. Hodge's Motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On January 28, 2005, this Court sentenced Mr. Hodge under 21 U.S.C § 846 to a term of ninety-six months on one count of conspiracy to distribute an excess of fifty kilograms or more of marijuana. (ECF No. 22). This sentence was to run consecutively with a previous drug related sentence imposed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Id. Moreover, upon release, the Court imposed a three-year term of supervised released. Id.

         On March 5, 2015, Mr. Hodge filed a Motion for Reduction of Sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) asking the Court to reduce the ninety-six-month sentence by two levels. (ECF No. 28). The Court denied Mr. Hodge's motion due to his status as a career offender. (ECF No. 31).

         On July 17, 2018, Mr. Hodge filed this Motion for Reduction of Sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). (ECF No. 32). Mr. Hodge petitioned the Court to reduce his ninety-six-month sentence based upon Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines and the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. 3553(a).

         II. LAW & ANALYSIS

         Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), district courts may modify an imposed sentence based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission. United States v Clardy, 877 F.3d 228, 229 (6th Cir. 1987); see also 28 U.S.C § 944(o). The modification of a prison sentence involves a two-step inquiry. Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 826 (2010). First, “[t]he court must determine that the defendant is eligible for a reduction in his sentence.” United States v. Thompson, 714 F.3d 946, 948 (6th Cir. 2013) (citing Dillon, 560 U.S. at 826-27). A defendant is only eligible for sentence reduction if he was “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), and the “reduction is ‘consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.'” United States v. Riley, 726 F.3d 756, 758 (6th Cir. 2013) (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)). These policy statements are contained in § 1B1.10. Dillon, 560 U.S. at 826.

         As part of the inquiry under §1B1.10(b)(1), the court “‘determine[s] the amended guideline range that would have been applicable to the defendant' had the relevant amendment been in effect at the time of the initial sentencing.” Dillon, 560 U.S. at 827 (quoting § 1B1.10(b)(1)). If the first step is satisfied, the court may then consider whether a reduction is warranted based on the factors laid out in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). Id.

         Mr. Hodge is ineligible for a sentence reduction. Mr. Hodge was convicted based on a quantity of sixty-eight kilograms of marijuana. At the time of his sentencing, that quantity corresponded to an offense level of twenty-two. See U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 2D1.1(c) (U.S. Sentencing Comm'n 2004); ECF No. 2. Nevertheless, because of Mr. Hodge's status of a career offender as defined by §4B1.1(a), at the time of sentencing, his base offense level was moved from a twenty-two to a thirty-two with a criminal history of category VI. (ECF No. 2). Under the plea agreement, the Government was to recommend a reduction in the base offense level from thirty-two to twenty-nine. (ECF No. 2 at 4). At sentencing, this Court further departed downward, on recommendation of the Government, to offense level 23 and sentenced Mr. Hodge to ninety-six months in prison. (ECF. No. 23).

         Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines reduced by two levels some, but not all, of the base level offenses located in the Drug Quantity Tables in U.S.S.G. §§ 2D1.1 and 2D1.11. Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines lowered by two levels the offense level for the quantity of drugs on which Mr. Hodge was convicted.

         Where a defendant's sentence is based on status as a career offender, however, he is ineligible for a sentence reduction based on amendments to the sentencing guidelines for drug quantities. See, e.g., United States v. Charles, 843 F.3d 1142, 1145 (6th Cir. 2016) (finding that defendant was ineligible for sentence reduction because he was sentenced, in part, based on status as a career offender); United States v. Alston, No. 17-5818, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 3457, at *3 (6th Cir. Feb. 14, 2018) (citing United States v. Webb, 760 F.3d 513, 520 (6th Cir. 2014)) (“Because Alston's applicable guidelines range was not based on the § 2D1.1 drug-guideline range but on the career-offender range under § 4B1.1, he would not have been eligible for a sentence reduction under § 3582(c)(2) even if Amendment 782 had been issued after he was sentenced.”). Essentially, defendants such as Hodge are considered sentenced based on status as a career offender, not drug quantity. See, e.g., Webb, 760 F.3d at 521 (holding that “applicable guidelines range” was career offender range, not drug quantity range); Thompson, 714 F.3d at 950 (“Because the amendment in question has no effect on the ultimate sentencing range imposed no Thompson under the career offender guidelines, the district court did not err in declining to grant his § 3582(c)(2) motion.”). Because the career offender guidelines were not changed, Mr. Hodge is ineligible for a sentence reduction.

         III. CONCLUSION

         For these reasons, Mr. Hodge's Motion for a Reduction of Sentence Under 18 U.S.C ...


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