Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Ball

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 2, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ANTWUAN BALL also known as “Abdus Salaam Rashaad”, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL L. FRIEDMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         The matter is before the Court on the motion [Dkt. No. 1619] of defendant Antwuan Ball, also known as Abdus Salaam Rashaad, to reduce his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) based on Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Upon careful consideration of the parties' written submissions, the relevant legal authorities, and the entire record in this case, the Court will deny the motion.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case was originally assigned to Judge Richard W. Roberts, who presided over the trial of Mr. Ball and his co-defendants in 2007. In November 2007, the jury found Mr. Ball guilty of one count of distributing five grams or more of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)(iii). See United States v. Jones, 744 F.3d 1362, 1365 (D.C. Cir. 2014); Judgment at 1.

         Shortly before Mr. Ball was sentenced, the United States Sentencing Commission promulgated temporary emergency amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines with an effective date of November 1, 2010. See U.S.S.G. app. C, amend. 748 (Supp. Nov. 1, 2010); 75 Fed. Reg. 66188, 66188-93 (Oct. 27, 2010). Prior to the emergency amendments, 1.5 kilograms of cocaine base was the threshold between offense level 34 (“At least 500 G but less than 1.5 KG”) and offense level 36 (“At least 1.5 KG but less than 4.5 KG”). See U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c) (2010). After the emergency amendments, 2.8 kilograms of cocaine base was the threshold between offense level 34 (“At least 840 G but less than 2.8 KG”) and offense level 36 (“At least 2.8 KG but less than 8.4 KG”). See U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c) (Supp. Nov. 1, 2010).

         Judge Roberts sentenced Mr. Ball on March 17, 2011, four months after the emergency amendments went into effect. He found Mr. Ball responsible for “at least 1.5 kilos” of cocaine base, resulting in a base offense level of 34. See Sentencing Tr. at 37; PSR ¶ 90; see also United States v. Wyche, 741 F.3d 1284, 1292 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (“Under the Sentencing Guidelines, the district court determines a defendant's base offense level - and, ultimately, his guideline range - by delineating his relevant conduct.”) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). Judge Roberts added a two-level enhancement for handgun possession pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(b)(1) and a four-level enhancement for Mr. Ball's role as an organizer or leader of the criminal activity pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(a), resulting in a total offense level of 40. See id. at 37-39; PSR ¶¶ 90-98. With a total offense level of 40 and a criminal history category of I, Mr. Ball's applicable Guideline range was 292 to 365 months. See Sentencing Tr. at 68; PSR ¶ 142.

         Varying below the Guidelines, Judge Roberts sentenced Mr. Ball to 225 months, followed by five years of supervised release. See United States v. Jones, 744 F.3d at 1366; Sentencing Tr. at 72. Judge Roberts justified these downward variances based on the disparity between sentences authorized for crack cocaine offenses and those for powder cocaine offenses, and to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparity between Mr. Ball and his co-defendants. See Sentencing Tr. at 69-70; Statement of Reasons at 2-3. Judge Roberts also explained that he would reduce Mr. Ball's sentence by an additional fifteen months to remedy any prejudice from the three-and-a-half year delay in his sentencing. See Sentencing Tr. at 70-71; Statement of Reasons at 3-4. The D.C. Circuit affirmed the sentence in March 2014. See United States v. Jones, 744 F.3d at 1367-70.[2]

         This case was reassigned to the undersigned in April 2016. On January 24, 2017, the Court docketed a letter from Mr. Ball [Dkt. No. 1600], seeking a sentencing reduction based on the “drugs-minus-two” amended Guidelines. On May 2, 2017, Mr. Ball, through appointed counsel, filed the instant motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) based on Amendment 782 to the Sentencing Guidelines. Amendment 782 reduced by two levels the base offense levels for certain controlled substance offenses. See U.S.S.G. app. C, amends. 782 (reduction), 788 (making Amendment 782 retroactive). Prior to Amendment 782, a drug quantity of at least 840 grams but less than 2.8 kilograms of cocaine base carried an offense level of 34; after the amendment, the same amount fell to an offense level of 32. As noted, with a drug quantity of at least 1.5 kilograms of cocaine base, Mr. Ball's base offense level had been a level 34. With a two-level enhancement for handgun possession and a four-level enhancement for his leadership role, his total offense level was 40 and his criminal history category was I. That yielded a Guideline range of 292 to 365 months at the time of sentencing. Mr. Ball argues that a two-level reduction to offense level 38 would result in a revised Guideline range of 235 to 293 months under the current Guidelines. He asks the Court to reduce his sentence from 225 months to 220 months, fifteen months below the bottom of the revised Guideline range and five months below his current sentence.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A court may modify a defendant's sentence if the defendant “has been 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). A court considering a Section 3582(c)(2) motion is to engage in a limited, two-step inquiry. First, the court must determine whether the defendant is eligible for a sentence modification. To do so, the court must determine “the amended guidelines range that would have been applicable to the defendant” had the relevant amendment been in effect at the time of the initial sentencing. United States v. Wyche, 741 F.3d at 1292 (quoting Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 827 (2010)). Second, if the defendant is eligible for a sentence modification, the court must consider any applicable factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) and determine whether, in its discretion, a reduction in the defendant's sentence is “warranted in whole or in part under the particular circumstances of the case.” United States v. Wyche, 741 F.3d at 1292 (quoting Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. at 827)). The court is to consider the Section 3553(a) factors “to the extent that they are applicable” and determine if the sentence reduction is “consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.” See 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Drug Quantity

         The Court must first determine the amended Guideline range that would have been applicable if Amendment 782 had been in effect when Mr. Ball was sentenced in March 2011. At sentencing, Judge Roberts found Mr. Ball responsible for “at least 1.5 kilos” of cocaine base, resulting in a base offense level of 34. See Sentencing Tr. at 37. With a two-level enhancement for handgun possession and a four-level enhancement for his leadership role, his total offense level was 40 and his criminal history category was I. That yielded a Guideline range of 292 to 365 months at the time of sentencing. Based on a drug quantity of at least 1.5 kilograms of cocaine base, Mr. Ball argues that Amendment 782 now puts him at a total offense level of 38 and a Guideline range of 235 to 293 months. He asks the Court to reduce his sentence from 225 months to 220 months, fifteen months below the bottom of the revised Guideline range.

         The United States responds that Judge Roberts did not make a specific drug quantity finding at sentencing; he found only that Mr. Ball was responsible for “at least” 1.5 kilograms of cocaine base.[3] The United States asks the Court to make a new, more precise drug quantity finding in order to determine Mr. Ball's applicable Guideline range. It maintains that any such factual inquiry would likely result in a finding that Mr. Ball was responsible for at least 2.8 kilograms of cocaine base, which would put him at a base offense level of 34, a total offense level of 40, and a Guideline range of 292 to 365 months under the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.