United States District Court, District of Columbia
ROSEMARY M. COLLYER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
convicted Pablo Lovo, Joel Sorto, and Yonas Eshetu in 2014 of
conspiring to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery,
18 U.S.C. § 1951, and Mr. Lovo and Mr. Sorto of using,
carrying or possessing a firearm during a crime of violence,
18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The Defendants were sentenced to
prison terms of varying lengths followed by three years of
supervised release. Following a 2018 Supreme Court decision
in another case, the convictions of Messrs. Lovo and Sorto on
the gun count were overturned; each Defendant's
conviction of conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 1951 was
sustained. In 2018, all three Defendants were released from
the Bureau of Prisons to begin their terms of supervised
release. Each man has moved for early termination of
Lovo was sentenced to sixty-four months of incarceration for
conspiring to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery,
18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Count One), and sixty months of
incarceration for using, carrying or possessing a firearm
during a crime of violence, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count
Two), to run consecutively; Mr. Sorto was sentenced to forty
months of incarceration on Count One, and sixty months of
incarceration on Count Two, to run consecutively; and Mr.
Eshetu was sentenced to sixty-four months of incarceration on
Count One. Each Defendant was sentenced to thirty-six months
of supervised release following incarceration.
appealed their convictions on various grounds and, in an
opinion dated July 25, 2017, the D.C. Circuit affirmed the
district court on all but one claim. United States v.
Eshetu, 863 F.3d 946 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (Eshetu
I), vacated in part on reh'g, 898 F.3d 36
(D.C. Cir. 2018). The Circuit remanded to the district court
to consider whether Defendants suffered ineffective
assistance of counsel when trial counsel did not object to
the admission of certain recordings or raise an entrapment
defense. This Court received a mandate as to Mr. Eshetu on
August 3, 2018; following a status hearing, the parties
agreed to suspend further proceedings on the ineffective
assistance claim until the Court received mandates for
Messrs. Lovo and Sorto.
the 2017 Circuit opinion, the Supreme Court held that 18
U.S.C. § 16(b)-the “residual clause” of
section 16's crime-of-violence definition-is
unconstitutionally vague. Sessions v. Dimaya, 138
S.Ct. 1204, 1210 (2018). Messrs. Lovo and Sorto sought
further review of their convictions on Count Two in light of
Dimaya and on August 3, 2018, the Circuit vacated
their convictions on Count Two. United States v.
Eshetu, 898 F.3d 36 (D.C. Cir. 2018) (Eshetu
II). Counsel for Messrs. Lovo and Sorto then moved for
their clients' immediate release because each had already
served his full prison term on Count One. The Court granted
these motions: Mr. Sorto was released from the Bureau of
Prisons on October 5, 2018, and Mr. Lovo was released on
November 19, 2018. Mr. Eshetu was released several months
earlier on May 17, 2018.
Eshetu's term of supervised release will expire on May
16, 2021; Mr. Sorto's on October 4, 2021; and Mr.
Lovo's on November 18, 2021. Each Defendant has moved for
early termination of supervised release and Mr. Lovo has
moved, in the alternative, to modify his conditions of
release. The Government opposes Defendants' motions. The
matter is ripe for review.
to 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e), a court may “terminate a
term of supervised release and discharge the defendant
released at any time after the expiration of one year of
supervised release . . . if it is satisfied that such action
is warranted by the conduct of the defendant released and the
interest of justice.” 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(1). A
district court may also “modify, reduce, or enlarge the
conditions of supervised release[ ] at any time prior to the
expiration or termination of the term of supervised
release.” Id. § 3583(e)(2).
considering a request for early termination of supervised
release, the Court must first consider: (1) the nature and
circumstances of the offense and the defendant's history
and characteristics; (2) deterrence of criminal conduct; (3)
protection of the public from further crimes of the
defendant; (4) the need to provide the defendant with
education or vocational training, medical care, or other
correctional treatment; (5) the applicable sentencing
guideline range for the offense and pertinent policy
statements issued by the U.S. Sentencing Commission; (6) the
need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities; and (7) the
need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense.
See 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a); see also United
States v. Harris, 258 F.Supp.3d 137, 144 (D.D.C. 2017).
Circuit Court for the District of Columbia Circuit has
instructed that the district court must explain its
consideration of the requisite factors when denying a motion
for early termination, unless “the reasons for denying
the motion are apparent from the record.” United
States v. Mathis-Gardner, 783 F.3d 1286, 1289 (D.C. Cir.
the first four factors of Section 3553(a) are of particular
relevance to the Defendants. The fifth factor-the U.S.
Sentencing Commission's Guidelines and policy
statements-is of limited relevance because “the
Commission has not promulgated any guidelines or policy
statements addressing early termination of supervised
release, but limited its policy guidance to violations of
supervised release.” Harris, 258 F.Supp.3d at
145. The sixth factor, which considers avoiding unwarranted
sentencing disparities, has “limited utility”
because this factor “would generally undermine the case
specific inquiry required in evaluating a motion for early
termination of supervised release.” Id. The
seventh factor, which considers restitution obligations, does
not apply because there were no victims in this case.
remaining pertinent factors must be analyzed for each
Defendant: (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense;
(2) deterrence of criminal conduct; (3) protection of the
public; and (4) the need to provide the defendant with
training or correctional treatment. It is also pertinent to
review whether each man's conduct following release and
whether the “interest of justice” warrants an
early termination of supervised release. 18 U.S.C. §
Request for Early Termination of Supervision
and Circumstances of the Offense.
2013, Messrs. Lovo, Sorto, and Eshetu joined a conspiracy
with two other co-defendants to rob a narcotics dealer who
was, unbeknownst to them, totally fictitious. The plan came
to fruition over the course of five meetings with an
undercover police officer and culminated in a September 5,
2013 meeting at a Washington, D.C. storage facility, where
the police arrested all conspirators. Mr. Lovo attended all
five meetings and served as a leader and organizer of the
conspiracy. See Eshetu I, 863 F.3d at 949-50.
Government observes, Mr. Lovo's acts were “very
detailed in [their] planning” and the coconspirators
“were prepared to engage in what could have been very
violent criminal acts.” Opp'n at 9. During an
August 24, 2013 meeting, Mr. Lovo volunteered to supply guns