United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S
PRO SE MOTION TO REDUCE SENTENCE UNDER FIRST STEP ACT OF 2018
[DKT. NO. 298] AND DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO
APPOINT COUNSEL [DKT. NO. 305]
M. KEELEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
March 14, 2019, the defendant, George Martin
(“Martin”), filed a pro se motion to
reduce his sentence under the First Step Act of 2018 (Dkt.
No. 298), and on July 18, 2019, he filed a motion to appoint
counsel (Dkt. No. 305). Because he is not entitled to relief
under the First Step Act, the Court DENIES
his motion for a sentence reduction (Dkt. No. 298) and
DENIES AS MOOT his motion to appoint counsel
(Dkt. No. 305).
March 2, 2005, a grand jury sitting in the Northern District
of West Virginia returned a four-count indictment, charging
Martin with one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine
base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(A)(iii)
and 846 (Count One); two counts of aiding and abetting the
distribution of cocaine base in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
2 and 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(C) (Counts
Two and Three); and one count of distribution of cocaine base
in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1),
841(b)(1)(C) (Count Four) (Dkt. No. 1). On May 18, 2005, a
grand jury returned a superceding indictment, naming Martin
in a fifth count of using a firearm in relation to a drug
trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
924(c)(1)(A)(i) (Count Five) (Dkt. No. 22).
a trial on all counts, a jury found Martin guilty of Counts
One, Two, Four, and Five (Dkt. No. 100). The Court then
imposed a total sentence of 270 months of incarceration and 5
years of supervised released (Dkt. Nos. 106, 111). The
parties appealed Martin's conviction and sentence (Dkt.
Nos. 107, 109), and Martin filed a pro se motion for
retroactive application of the sentencing guidelines for
crack cocaine (cocaine base) offenses (Dkt. No. 139). The
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
affirmed Martin's convictions on Counts One, Two, and
Four, vacated his conviction on Count Five, and remanded the
case for resentencing (Dkt. No. 132).
resentencing hearing on January 12, 2011, the Court
determined that Martin was responsible for 11.23 kilograms of
cocaine base, which resulted in a guideline range of life in
prison (Dkt. Nos. 193 at 2). It then varied from the
guideline range and sentenced Martin to 270 months of
incarceration and 5 years of supervised release (Dkt. Nos.
180, 187). Of significance to the merits of the pending
motion, Martin was sentenced under the 2010 edition of the
United States Sentencing Guidelines, which incorporated the
Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. The Court therefore denied his
pro se motion as moot (Dkt. No. 188). Martin then
unsuccessfully appealed his new sentence (Dkt. No. 182).
March 14, 2019, Martin filed the instant pro se
motion for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act of
2018 (Dkt. No. 28). The Government filed its response on
April 11, 2019 (Dkt. No. 304), to which Martin did not reply.
His motion is ripe for the Court's review.
determine whether Martin is entitled to have his sentence
reduced, the Court must first determine whether such
reduction is permitted by the First Step Act. Under Section
404 of the First Step Act, courts that have “imposed a
sentence for a covered offense” may “impose a
reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-220; 124 Stat. 2372)
were in effect at the time the covered offense was
committed.” Pub. L. No. 115-015, § 404, 132 Stat.
015, 015 (2018) (hereinafter “2018 FSA”).
“However, defendants are ineligible for a reduced
sentence under the [First Step Act] if their sentence
‘was previously imposed or previously reduced in
accordance with the amendments made by sections 2 and 3 of
the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.'” United
States v. Evans, No.1:08CR00024-001, 2019 WL 1199474, at
*1 (W.D. Va. Mar. 14, 2019) (quoting 2018 FSA § 404(c)).
Martin was resentenced using the 2010 Edition of the United
States Sentencing Guidelines, which incorporated sections 2
and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (Dkt. No. 188).
Because his resentence was “previously imposed . . . in
accordance with” sections 2 and 3, Martin is ineligible
for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act of 2018.
2018 FSA § 404(c). Moreover, it is worth nothing that,
even were Martin eligible under the First Step Act, his
criminal history (category IV), relevant drug conduct (11.23
kilograms of cocaine base), and applicable guideline
enhancements (three-level increase for role and two-level
increase for obstruction) would still result in a guideline
range of life in prison. Accordingly, Martin is not entitled
to relief under the First Step Act.
reasons discussed, the Court DENIES
Martin's motion to reduce his sentence (Dkt. No. 298) and
DENIES AS MOOT Martin's ...