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United States v. Austin

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 5, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
LESTER STANLEY AUSTIN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant Lester Stanley Austin ("Defendant" or "Mr. Austin") is presently serving a sentence of 132 months imprisonment, followed by 60 months of supervised release, after having entered a plea of guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine and 280 Grams or More of Cocaine Base. See July 9, 2012 Plea Agreement., ECF No. 157; November 15, 2012 Judgment, ECF No. 202. Proceeding pro se, he has filed a motion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), requesting that this Court reduce his term of imprisonment. See Def s Mot. for Sentencing Modification, ECF No. 239 (docketed as "Retroactivity Prep Documents"). The Government opposes the Defendant's request. See United States' Opposition to Defendant's Pro Se Motion for Sentencing Modification, ECF No. 246. For the reasons stated herein, Defendant's Motion for Sentencing Modification is DENIED.

         Background

         Defendant's guilty plea was entered pursuant to Rule 11(c)(1)(C) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Mr. Austin and the Government agreed to "a sentence of not less than 132 months of incarceration and not more than 156 months of incarceration, followed by 5 years of supervised release." Plea Agreement, ECF No. 157, at 2. The Plea Agreement makes clear that "because Defendant AUSTIN has two prior felony convictions for controlled substance offenses, he is a career offender and thus, under the Sentencing Guidelines, his Base Offense Level is 37." Id. at 3; see U.S.S.G. § 4B 1.1 (b)(1). The Government agreed to recommend a 3-level reduction (to 34) in Defendant's offense level, pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1, to afford Defendant credit for his acceptance of responsibility. Plea Agreement, ECF No. 157, at 3.

         Defendant's Career Offender Status

         In its final Presentence Investigation Report, the Probation Office first calculated Defendant's offense level using a base offense level of 34, which was based on drug quantity tables, U.S.S.G. Section 2D1.1, and was adjusted up 2 levels due to the Defendant's use of violence in connection with the conspiracy. U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(2). This resulted in an adjusted offense level of 36. Final Presentence Report, ECF No. 197, at 10.

         The Probation Office alternately calculated Defendant's offense level as 37, based on his status as a career offender. Id. A career offender is defined as follows:

A defendant is a career offender if (1) the defendant was at least eighteen years old at the time the defendant committed the instant offense of conviction; (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense; and (3) the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense.

U.S.S.G. § 4Bl.l(a); see Final Presentence Report, ECF No. 197, at 10, 11, 15. Defendant does not dispute his status as a career offender.

         The Government notes that "[f]or a career offender, offense levels are initially calculated based on the drug quantity tables, U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1, and the career offender provision, U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, and whichever calculation produces a higher result determines the defendant's actual offense level under the Sentencing Guidelines." Govt's Opp'n, ECF No. 246, at 2 n. 1; see United States v. Akers, 892 F.3d 432 (D.C. Cir. 2018) (discussing calculation of the offense level where a defendant has been determined to be a career offender). In Akers, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stated that:

The career-offender guideline "requires taking the greater offense level between the offense level calculated independent of § 4B1.1, and the career offender offense level, which is based on the statutory maximum." United States v Lawrence, 662 F.3d 551, 559 (D.C. Cir. 2011). Where, as here, the career-offender provision produces a higher offense level, the court calculates the defendant's sentencing range by adopt[ing] the offense level for a career offender and a criminal history category of VI." United States v. Tepper, 616 F.3d 583, 587 (D.C. Cir. 2010).

Akers, 892 F.3d at 433.

         Accordingly, Defendant started with a base offense level of 37, based on his career offender status, and Defendant then received a three-level downward adjustment for acceptance of responsibility, resulting in a total offense level of 34. Final Presentence Report, ECF No. 197, at 10. While the Guidelines range was 262-327 months for a total offense level of 34 and a criminal history category of VI, the parties agreed under Rule 11(c)(1)(C) to a below-Guidelines sentence of imprisonment sentence ranging from 132-156 months. Final Presentence Report, ECF No. 197, at 29. In making its own Guidelines determination, the Court indicated that it agreed with the calculations of the Probation Office, and at the sentencing hearing, the Court accepted the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea and imposed a sentence of 132 months imprisonment. See Judgment, ECF No. 202. Defendant challenges his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 3582(c)(2) and U.S.S.G. Amendment 782.

         Analysis of ...


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