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United States v. Martin

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia

October 2, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE MARTIN, Defendant.

         MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S AMENDED MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [DKT. NO. 311], DENYING AS MOOT HIS MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [DKT. NO. 310], AND REDUCING DEFENDANT'S SENTENCE PURSUANT TO THE FIRST STEP ACT

          IRENE M. KEELEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 2, 2005, a grand jury sitting in the Northern District of West Virginia returned a four-count indictment, charging the defendant, George Martin (“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 that charged use of 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).

         Following a trial on all five counts, a jury found Martin guilty of Counts One, Two, Four, and Five (Dkt. No. 100). The Court sentenced him to 210 months of incarceration on Counts One, Two, and Four, to be served concurrently, and 60 months of incarceration on Count Five, that sentence to be served consecutively to his sentence on Counts One, Two, and Four, for a total sentence of 270 months (Dkt. Nos. 106, 111). It also sentenced Martin to a term of 5 years of supervised released on each count, to be served concurrently. Id. 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).

         At the resentencing hearing on January 12, 2011, the Court determined that Martin's relevant conduct was 11.23 kilograms of cocaine base, which resulted in a guideline range of life in prison (Dkt. Nos. 193 at 2). It varied from that guideline range, however, and sentenced Martin to 270 months of incarceration on Count One, and 240 months of incarceration on Counts Two and Four, all to be served concurrently, for a total sentence of 270 months (Dkt. Nos. 180, 187). It again imposed a term of supervised released of five years on each count, to be served concurrently. Id. Martin unsuccessfully appealed this new sentence (Dkt. No. 182).

         On March 14, 2019, Martin filed a pro se motion for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act of 2018 (Dkt. No. 28). The Government responded on April 11, 2019 (Dkt. No. 304), but Martin did not reply. Thereafter, on July 19, 2019, the Court denied Martin's motion after determining that he had previously been sentenced in accord with Sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 and, in any event, would still have a guideline range of life in prison (Dkt. No. 306 at 4).

         On August 12, 2019, Martin mailed his timely pro se notice of appeal (Dkt. No. 314), which was processed and postmarked on August 13, 2019 (Dkt. No. 314-2).[1] Five days later, on August 17, 2019, his attorney sought reconsideration of the July 19, 2019 Memorandum Opinion and Order (Dkt. No. 310), and then filed an amended motion for reconsideration the very next day (Dkt. No. 311). On August 26, 2019, the Fourth Circuit opened Martin's case on appeal (Dkt. No. 316).

         On August 30, 2019, Martin filed an unopposed motion in the Fourth Circuit to suspend the briefing schedule on his appeal and sought a limited remand to permit this Court to rule on Martin's pending motions for reconsideration (No. 19-7220, Dkt. No. 6). On September 12, 2019, the Fourth Circuit granted Martin's motion and remanded his case to this Court for the limited purpose of addressing his amended motion for reconsideration on the merits (Dkt. No. 320). Jurisdiction in this Court is now clear, and the matter is fully briefed and ripe for disposition.

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         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). “A ‘covered offense' is defined as ‘a violation of a Federal criminal statute, the statutory penalties for which were modified by section 2 or 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, that was committed before August 3, 2010.” United States v. Delaney, No. 6:08-cr-00012, 2019 WL 861418, at *1 (W.D. Va. Feb. 22, 2019) (citations omitted).

         “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 § 404(c)).

         III. ANALYSIS

         “In determining if modification is appropriate, the Court will first address whether a reduction is consistent with the First Step Act, and will then ‘consider whether the authorized reduction is warranted, either in whole or in part, according to the facts set forth in § 3553(a).'” Delaney, 2019 WL ...


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