United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C, Reeves United States District Judge
Preston Bell pleaded guilty in February 2009 to conspiring to
distribute and possessing with the intent to distribute fifty
grams or more of cocaine base (crack cocaine) in violation of
21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1). [Record No. 37] He
was subsequently sentenced to a 152-month term of
imprisonment, to be followed by 10 years of supervised
release. [Record No. 61] The United States Sentencing
Commission has identified Bell as potentially eligible for a
sentence reduction under the First Step Act of 2018
(“2018 Act”). The United States Probation Office
prepared an analysis regarding the First Step Act's
impact on Bell's sentence pursuant to General Order 19-5.
Having reviewed the record and Probation's analysis, the
Court concludes that a sentence reduction pursuant to the
2018 Act is not appropriate.
pleaded guilty to count 1 of the indictment, charging him
with conspiring to distribute and possessing with intent to
distribute fifty grams or more of cocaine base. He was
subject to a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years
and a maximum of life based on his prior conviction for a
felony drug offense and the quantity of crack cocaine
involved in the offense. 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(iii)
(Effective: July 27, 2006 to Apr. 14, 2009). Bell's
criminal history includes convictions for home invasion and
controlled substance delivery/manufacture which resulted in
Bell being classified as a career offender under Section
4B1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines
was responsible for between 50 and 150 grams of cocaine base,
resulting in a base offense level of 30 under U.S.S.G. §
2D1.1. But because he was classified as a career offender and
the statutory maximum for the offense was life, he was
assigned an offense level of 37 under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1.
Bell received a 3-level adjustment for acceptance of
responsibility, resulting in a total offense level of 34.
Further, his past convictions led to a criminal history score
of 13, resulting in a criminal history category of VI. Even
if Bell's criminal history category was not initially VI,
it was determined that he was a career offender within the
meaning of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, and a career offender's
criminal history category in every case is a category VI.
See U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(b) (2009). Bell's
total offense level and criminal history category resulted in
an advisory guidelines range of 262-327 months'
Court sentenced Bell below the guidelines range and statutory
minimum pursuant to a 5K1.1 motion and 18 U.S.C. §
3553(e). Ultimately, the Court concluded that a sentence of
152 months was sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to
serve the purposes of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).
Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (“FSA”) effectively
increased the quantity of cocaine base needed to trigger
mandatory minimum sentences under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b).
Pub. L. No. 111-220. After the enactment of the FSA, a
quantity of cocaine base between 28 grams and 280 grams
results in a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years if the
defendant had a prior conviction for a felony drug offense.
21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B) (effective Aug. 3, 2010 to Dec.
20, 2018). The FSA was not previously retroactive, but the
2018 Act signed into law on December 21, 2018, permits courts
to apply the FSA retroactively to reduce the sentences of
defendants convicted of certain crack cocaine offenses. Pub.
L. No. 115-391. Pursuant to the retroactive application of
the FSA, Bell's mandatory minimum would decrease to 10
years, but the statutory maximum remains a term of life
Bell pleaded guilty to a violation of 21 U.S.C. §
841(a), he was sentenced as a career offender under U.S.S.G.
§ 4B1.1. Therefore, even if Bell was sentenced pursuant
to the FSA, his guideline range would not change because
offense levels under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1 are driven by the
statutory maximum sentence. The statutory maximum is still
life in prison, so Bell's offense level remains 37.
Applying the three-level reduction for acceptance of
responsibility would lead to a total offense level of 34.
Additionally, his criminal history category remains VI, so
the appropriate guidelines range pursuant to the FSA would be
262 to 327 months of imprisonment. Accordingly, although 152
months is above the applicable statutory mandatory minimum
sentence pursuant to the FSA, it is below the advisory
guidelines range. More importantly, it remains the minimum
term of imprisonment that is sufficient, but not greater than
necessary, to promote the purposes of 18 U.S.C. §
3553(a). Finally, even though Bell was sentenced to a term of
supervised release of 10 years and the minimum term has been
reduced to 8 years pursuant to the FSA, 10 years remains the
minimum term of supervision that will serve the purposes of
18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).
upon the foregoing, it is hereby ORDERED
that a sentence reduction under the First Step Act of 2018 is
not appropriate for Defendant Preston Bell. The Clerk of the
Court is directed to forward a copy of this Memorandum
Opinion and Order to the defendant at his current location:
(Register Number: 11892-032) RRM Raleigh, P.O. Box 7000, Old
NC 75 Highway, Butner, North Carolina 27509.
 The Bureau of Prison's inmate
locator service list Bell's scheduled release date as:
June 22, 2019. (See https://www.bop.gov/inmateloc/; ...