United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. HOOD, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Samuel Lewaco Clay (“Clay”), a federal prisoner
proceeding pro se, moves for reconsideration of the
Court's previous order, which sua sponte denied Clay a
reduction of sentence under the provisions of the First Step
Act of 2018. [DE 96]. But as the Court has explained, and
again reiterates, under Sixth Circuit precedent, Clay is
ineligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act
due to his status as a career offender. As a result,
Clay's motion to reconsider [DE 97] is
August 16, 2006, Clay pleaded guilty to possession with
intent to distribute cocaine base (“crack”
cocaine) in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1). [DE 27, 30]. In
December 2006, Clay was sentenced to a total term of
imprisonment of 262 months, to be followed by an eight-year
term of supervised release. [DE 42]. Clay's sentence was
based on his status as a career offender pursuant to U.S.S.G.
§ 4B1.1, not the guidelines ranges in U.S.S.G. §
2D1.1, which are based on drug quantity. [DE 42, 52].
Sixth Circuit confirmed the conviction and sentence on direct
appeal. Clay has also filed multiple petitions for habeas
relief and has moved for reductions of sentence.
the Court received a list of prisoners that may be eligible
for a reduction of sentence under the First Step Act and
ordered that the United States Probation Office review the
listed cases and issue a report. [DE 94]. Subsequently, the
Court reviewed the report from the United States Probation
Office, and Clay's case generally, and entered a sua
sponte denial of a reduction of sentence based on Clay's
status as a career offender. [DE 96]. Now, Clay has again
moved for a reduction of his sentence, which this Court
construes as a motion for reconsideration of the Court's
prior sua sponte denial of a sentence reduction based on the
First Step Act. [DE 97]. This matter is ripe for review.
December 21, 2018, the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No.
115-391, 132 Stat. 5194, was signed into law. Among other
reforms, Section 404 of the First Step Act retroactively
applies certain sentencing reform provisions of the Fair
Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372
(“FSA”). Specifically, the First Step Act
retroactively applies the reduced statutory penalties for
cocaine base (“crack” cocaine) offenses in the
FSA to “covered offenses” committed before August
court that imposed a sentence for a covered offense may
impose a sentence as if the FSA were in effect at the time
the covered offense was committed. This reduction in sentence
may be made by the court on its own or on a motion of the
defendant, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, or an
attorney for the United States.
argues that his sentence should be reduced to 151 months,
which would make him eligible for immediate release from
custody. [DE 97]. Specifically, Clay argues that his sentence
may be reduced even though he was sentenced as a career
18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), a defendant is eligible for a
sentence reduction if: (1) the defendant has been sentenced
to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that
has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission;
and (2) such reduction is consistent with applicable policy
statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.”
United States v. Riley, 726 F.3d 756, 758 (6th Cir.
2013) (internal citations and quotation omitted). To satisfy
the second requirement, “a guidelines amendment must
have the effect of lowering the defendant's applicable
guideline range.” Id. (internal citations and
argument that he is eligible for a sentence reduction under
the First Step Act notwithstanding his sentencing status as a
career offender, has been foreclosed by the Sixth Circuit and
is thus completely without merit. In Riley, the
Sixth Circuit addressed whether prisoners sentenced as career
offenders were eligible for a sentence reduction under the
Fair Sentencing Act and held that those sentenced as career
offenders under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 were not eligible
because the reforms in the Fair Sentencing Act only affected
the guidelines ranges under U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1.
Id. at 758-59.
holding, the Sixth Circuit explained that career offenders
were not eligible for a sentence reduction under Amendment
706, a retroactive amendment that lowered the base offense
levels for most crack offense levels in § 2D1.1, because
sentences for career offenders were not based on a sentencing
range that had been lowered by the commission. See
Id. (discussing United States v. Perdue, 572
F.3d 288 (6th Cir. 2009)).
Sixth Circuit reaffirmed its holding in Perdue in
the context of Amendment 750 under the Fair Sentencing Act
because “that amendment did not lower the career
offender sentencing guidelines range” where a sentence
was derived from a defendant's status as a career
offender, rather than based on the quantity of drugs.