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United States v. Yansane

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 7, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
PATRICK M. YANSANE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION [DKT. # 321]

          RICHARD J. LEON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is defendant Patrick Yansane's motion to reduce his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) based on Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines, Def.'s Mot. to Reduce Sentence ("Def.'s Mot.") [Dkt. # 32], which the Government opposed, see Gov't's Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. to Reduce Sentence ("Gov't's Opp'n") [Dkt. # 34]. Upon consideration of the parties' pleadings, the relevant law, and the entire record herein, the Court DENIES defendant's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         On February 16, 2007, Patrick Yansane pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(l)(A)(iii). See Minute Entry (Feb. 16, 2007); Plea Agreement ¶ 1 [Dkt. #9]. In his plea agreement, Yansane acknowledged he was accountable for at least 150 grams but less than 500 grams of crack, Plea Agreement ¶ 2, and in the factual proffer accompanying his plea he specifically admitted to possessing 173.1 grams of crack, see Gov't's Submission to the Ct. in Preparation for the Upcoming Plea Hr'g of Patrick M. Yansane 3-4 [Dkt. #8].[1] At the time I sentenced him, on March 6, 2008, an offense involving at least 150 grams but less than 500 grams of crack cocaine carried a base offense level of 32, see U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual ("U.S.S.G.") § 2D 1.1 (c)(4) (2007) (Drug Quantity Table), and the statutory mandatory minimum sentence for offenses involving 50 grams or more of crack was 120 months in prison, see 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(l)(A)(iii) (2006). At sentencing, I determined that the applicable guideline sentencing range was 151 to 188 months, based on an offense level of 32 and a criminal history category of III, [2] and I sentenced him to 188 months, at the high end of that range. See Minute Entry (Mar. 6, 2008); Judgment [Dkt. #19]; Statement of Reasons [Dkt. # 22]; Sentencing Tr. (Mar. 6, 2008) at 24, 33; U.S.S.G. ch. 5, pt. A (Sentencing Table) (2007).

         Subsequently, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 ("FSA"), Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372, which reduced the statutory mandatory minimum sentences applicable to certain quantities of crack.[3] Pursuant to the FSA, the U.S. Sentencing Commission amended the guidelines to reduce the base offense levels for quantities of crack. See U.S.S.G. App. C, Vol. Ill. Amends. 748 (2010), 750 (2011). The Commission also determined that the new base offense levels should apply retroactively in sentence reduction proceedings under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). See Id. Amend. 759 (2011). Thereafter, on June 7, 2012, defendant filed a motion to reduce his prison sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) based on Amendment 750, as well as Congress' enactment of the FSA. On July 23, 2014, 1 issued a Memorandum Order granting defendant's motion in part and shortened the prison term from 188 to 151 months.[4] Mem. Order (July 23, 2014) [Dkt. #31].

         Effective November 1, 2014, the Sentencing Commission amended and lowered the base offense levels by two points for nearly all drug offenses pursuant to Amendment 782. See U.S.S.G., Supp. to App. C, Amend. 782 (Nov. 1, 2014). Amendment 782 reduces Yansane's total offense level by two points. Currently before this Court is defendant's motion to reduce his sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) based on Amendment 782. See Def.'s Mot.

         ANALYSIS

         Under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), a defendant may move for a reduction in his sentence if he was sentenced "based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission." Id. The Court's power to reduce a sentence is discretionary. See id.; United States v. Kennedy, 722 F.3d 439, 442 (D.C. Cir. 2013). "A section 3582(c)(2) proceeding is not a plenary resentencing proceeding, nor is it a license for the defendant to re-litigate his sentence wholesale or challenge previously adjudicated aspects of his conviction." United States v. Wyche, 741 F.3d 1284, 1292 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Accordingly, in evaluating such a motion, this Court conducts only "a limited, two-step inquiry." Id. (citing Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 826-27 (2010)). First, I must "determine the prisoner's eligibility for a sentence modification and the extent of the reduction authorized" by "'determin[ing] 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 U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(b)(1) (brackets in original)). Next, if the defendant is eligible, I must then "consider any applicable § 3553(a) factors and determine whether, in [my] discretion, the reduction authorized by reference to the policies relevant at step one is warranted in whole or in part under the particular circumstances of the case." Dillon, 560 U.S. at 827.

         On July 23, 2014, 1 issued a Memorandum Order granting in part defendant's previous motion to reduce his sentence pursuant to Amendment 750, which reduced base offense levels for quantities of crack. See Mem. Order (July 23, 2014); U.S.S.G. App. C, Vol. Ill. Amends. 748 (2010), 750 (2011), and 759 (2011). At the time of the requested reduction, the effective amended guideline range was 120 to 121 months.[5] See U.S.S.G. § 5G1.1. While the statute authorized a potential reduction in sentence to as low as 120 months, I determined a smaller reduction was appropriate and shortened the prison term from 188 to 151 months in prison.

         Here, as before, it is undisputed that Yansane is eligible for a sentence reduction, this time pursuant to Amendment 782. It also remains undisputed, however, that any reduction may not result in a sentence lower than the 120-month statutory mandatory minimum sentence that was in force on the date I sentenced him. See Gov't's Opp'n at 10-14; Def.'s Mot. for Hr'g on Def.'s Mot. to Reduce Sentence [Dkt. # 30] at 1; United States v. Swangin, 726 F.3d 205, 206-07 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (holding that FSA's lower mandatory minimums do not apply retroactively in 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) proceedings).

         Thus I must determine whether to reduce defendant's sentence any further, to as low as 120 months. For the following reasons, I find that no further reduction is warranted.

         At issue here is Amendment 782, under which the Sentencing Commission amended and lowered the base offense levels by two points for nearly all drug offenses, effective November 1, 2014. See U.S.S.G., Suppl. to App. C, Amend. 782 (Nov. 1, 2014). This broad reaching amendment differs from the two earlier rounds of amendments to U.S.S.G. § 2D 1.1 that were limited to offenses involving crack cocaine base only, including Amendment 750, the basis for defendant's previous sentence reduction motion. See Gov't's Opp'n 3.

         Amendment 782 reduces the sentencing guideline range applicable to Yansane to 120 months. Under the current system, defendant's conviction of the crime of possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine base would be subject to a guideline range based upon a total offense level of 26 and Criminal History Category III, or a range of 78-97 months in prison. See U.S.S.G. § 2D 1.1 (c)(7) (2016) (Drug Quantity Table). Both parties correctly observe that the 173.1 grams of crack cocaine base for which defendant is accountable would carry a five-year mandatory-minimum term if he were convicted today, see 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), (B)(iii), but acknowledge that the Court lacks authority to sentence defendant to a prison term shorter than 120 months, the applicable statutory minimum prison term at the time of his original conviction and thus the effective guideline range here. See Def.'s Mot. 3; Gov't's Opp'n 4; see also Swangin, 726 F.3d at 206-07.

         Having determined the applicable guideline range to be 120 months, I must determine whether any further reduction to Yansane's 151-month sentence "is warranted . . . under the particular circumstances of th[is] case." Dillon, 560 U.S. at 827. I conclude it is not. As before, in making this discretionary determination I must consider the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), see 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c), as well as "the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that may be posed by a reduction in the defendant's term of imprisonment, " U.S.S.G. § IB 1.10 Commentary, Application Note l(B)(ii). Although the legal basis for the reduction request has changed, the 120-month floor remains unchanged and my evaluation of the § 3553(a) factors and public safety leads me to ...


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