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. Smith

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 15, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ROBERT SMITH, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROSEMARY M. COLLYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant Robert Smith pleaded guilty via a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) agreement to participation in a criminal drug conspiracy and was sentenced to the agreed-upon term of 156 months' incarceration. After his sentencing, the offense level under the United States Sentencing Guidelines for the crime to which he pleaded guilty was lowered by two levels. Mr. Smith moved this Court to lower his sentence, which the Court denied because his sentence was “based on an agreed plea under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) and not on the Guidelines.” That decision has now been reversed by the D.C. Circuit, due to the intervening Supreme Court decision in Hughes v. United States, 138 S.Ct. 1765 (2018), which held that a sentence based on a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea is generally “based on” the Guidelines and may be reduced due to a change in the underlying Guidelines. Thus, the case was remanded to this Court to reconsider its decision not to grant Mr. Smith's motion for a reduction in sentence. Having reviewed the submissions by the United States and Mr. Smith, the Court will grant Mr. Smith's motion to reduce his sentence. Mr. Smith's sentence will be modified to 135 months' incarceration, the mid-point of the new Guidelines range, with credit for time served.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. The Offense

         On March 10, 2010, Mr. Smith and 12 others were indicted for a conspiracy to sell phencyclidine (PCP), heroin, powder cocaine, and cocaine base in Washington, D.C. and Maryland. Indictment [Dkt. 3]. Count One of the Indictment charged Mr. Smith and others with Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute PCP, Heroin, Cocaine, and Cocaine Base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and Count Three charged Mr. Smith with Unlawful Possession With Intent to Distribute PCP in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(C). Id.

         On September 10, 2010, a Grand Jury returned a Superseding Indictment that charged Mr. Smith with:

Count 1: Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess With Intent to Distribute PCP, Heroin, Cocaine, Cocaine Base, and Marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846;
Count 2: Conspiracy to Participate in a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); and
Count 24: Unlawful Possession With Intent to Distribute PCP, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(C).

         Superseding Indictment [Dkt. 88].

         The indictments arose from an FBI investigation that started in 2009, following the murder of a witness in a D.C. Superior Court case. Between December 1, 2009 and March 10, 2010, the FBI intercepted over 3, 000 telephone calls and surveilled defendant Mark Pray and his drug-distributing co-conspirators, including Mr. Smith. See Final Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) [Dkt. 203] ¶¶ 22-23. The Pray Drug Conspiracy was involved in the distribution of large quantities of PCP, heroin, cocaine, cocaine base, and marijuana. Id. ¶ 22. Members of the conspiracy carried firearms while participating in drug sales and also used violence or threats of violence to further and to protect the conspiracy. Id.

         Mr. Smith was involved in the Pray Drug Conspiracy from some time in 2009 until March 11, 2010. Id. ¶ 27. His role was to sell PCP to customers and users in the Barry Farms neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Id. Mr. Smith was not alleged to have been involved in any violence committed by the Pray Drug Conspiracy and was not alleged to have possessed a gun during his sales of PCP.

         On March 25, 2011, Mr. Smith pleaded guilty under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C)[1] to Count 2 of the Superseding Indictment, which charged him with Conspiracy to Participate in a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d). Plea Agreement [Dkt. 151]. Mr. Smith admitted that his relevant conduct involved at least one but less than three kilograms of PCP. Id. ¶ 2; see also Factual Proffer [Dkt. 152] at ¶ 9. The parties agreed on a sentence of 156 months. Plea Agreement at ¶ 5. The plea was “wired to, ” i.e. conditioned upon, pleas by co-defendants Charles Wade, Robert McMillan, and Herman Williams, who were scheduled to go to trial with Mr. Smith. Id. ¶ 4.

         “With respect to drug-trafficking offenses, the [United States] Sentencing Guidelines establish a defendant's base offense level according to the type and weight of the drug.” Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 821 (2010) (citing USSG § 2D1.1(a), (c)). Mr. Smith's relevant conduct included at least one kilogram of PCP, which resulted in a base offense level of 32 under United States Sentencing Guideline (USSG) § 2D1.1. After a three-level reduction for early acceptance of responsibility under USSG § 3E1.1, Mr. Smith's total offense level was 29. PSR ¶¶ 49-58. Mr. Smith's criminal record placed him in Criminal History Category V, Id. ¶ 67, and thus his Guideline range was 140 to 175 months. Id. ¶ 111. The Court accepted the Rule 11(c)(1)(c) plea and, on August 9, 2011 and sentenced Mr. Smith accordingly to a term of imprisonment of 156 months and 60 months of supervised release. Judgment [Dkt. 285].

         B. Procedural Posture

         Thereafter, the Sentencing Commission amended the Guidelines and “reduced the base offense level by two levels for most drug offenses.” Hughes, 138 S.Ct. at 1774 (citing USSG App. C, Amdt. 782 (Supp. Nov. 2012-Nov. 2016)). Amendment 782 was later made retroactive “for defendants who . . . already had been sentenced under the higher offense levels.” Id. (citing USSG, Amdt. 788). Mr. Smith moved for a reduction in his sentence under Amendments 782 and 788 and 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).[2] First Mot. to Reduce Sentence [Dkt. 541]; FPD Mot. to Reduce Sentence [Dkt. 542].[3] This Court denied his motion, finding that Mr. Smith's sentence was based on an agreed-upon plea under Rule 11(c)(1)(C), in the nature of a contract, and not on a sentencing range from the Guidelines so that he was not eligible for a sentence reduction. Order [Dkt. 560]. Mr. Smith appealed. In the meantime, the Supreme Court had issued its decision in Hughes, affirmatively answering the question of whether “a defendant who enters into a Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement is generally eligible for a sentence reduction if there is a later, retroactive amendment to the relevant Sentencing Guidelines range.” Hughes, 138 S.Ct. at 1772. On Mr. Smith's appeal, the D.C. Circuit emphasized that the Guidelines are the “starting point for every sentencing calculation in the federal system, ” including most sentences in accord with Rule 11(c)(1)(C) pleas. United States v. Smith,896 F.3d 466, 470-71 (D.C. Cir. 2018) (quoting ...


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.