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United States v. Valladarez

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

May 11, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
NATTU JULIAN VALLADAREZ, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Nattu Julian Valladarez's (“Defendant”) pro se Second Motion for Sentence Reduction Pursuant to Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.) [493] (“Second Motion” or “Second Motion for Sentence Reduction”).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 12, 2008, Defendant was convicted by a jury of one count of Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute at Least Five Kilograms of Cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(ii), and 841(b)(1)(A)(viii) (Count One), one count of Possession with Intent to Distribute at Least Five Kilograms of Cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(ii), and 18 U.S.C. § 2 (Count Two), one count of Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1956(h), 1956(a)(1)(A)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(i), 1956(a)(1)(B)(ii), 1956(a)(2)(A), 1956(a)(2)(B)(i), and 1956(a)(2)(B)(ii) (Count Three), one count of Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking Crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) (Count Four), one count of Possession of a Firearm by an Illegal Alien, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(5) and 924(a)(2) (Count Five), one count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2) (Count Six), and one count of Unlawful Reentry by a Deported Alien, in violation of 8 U.S.C. §§ 1326(a) and 1326(b)(2) (Count Nine). ([256], [430]).

         On April 29, 2009, Defendant was sentenced to a term of incarceration of two hundred forty (240) months on Counts One and Two (collectively, “Drug Charges”), a concurrent term of two hundred forty (240) months on Count Three, a concurrent term of one hundred twenty (120) months on Counts Five, Six, and Nine, all to run consecutively with a term of sixty (60) months on Count Four (“Firearms Charge”), for a total sentence of three hundred (300) months. ([430]). The Court imposed the mandatory minimum sentence of two hundred forty (240) months on the Drug Charges and the mandatory minimum sentence of sixty (60) months on the Firearms Charge. (See Sentencing Transcript [399] at 8).

         On July 28, 2015, [1] Defendant filed his pro se First Motion for Sentence Reduction Pursuant to Amendment 782 to the Sentencing Guidelines [469] (“First Motion”). Defendant argued that he qualified for a sentence reduction pursuant to Amendment 782, which provides a two (2) point reduction in the base offense level for certain drug offenses.

         On August 12, 2016, the Court issued its Order denying Defendant's First Motion. ([489]). The Court found that:

Defendant was sentenced to a statutory mandatory minimum term of incarceration. Amendment 782, and the two (2) base offense reduction it requires, does not allow a Court to impose a sentence below the statutory minimum. See U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10 app. Note 1(a) (“a reduction in the defendant's term of imprisonment is not authorized under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) and is not consistent with this policy statement if . . . an . . . amendment does not have the effect of lowering the defendant's applicable guidelines range because of the operation of . . . another statutory provision”). Accordingly, Defendant is not entitled to a sentence reduction pursuant to Amendment 782 and is not entitled to be resentenced.

([489.1]).

         On May 8, 2017, Defendant's Second Motion was filed on the docket. Defendant again requests a reduction of his sentence pursuant to Amendment 782 of the Sentencing Guidelines. Defendant argues that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Dean v. United States, __ U.S. __, 137 S.Ct. 1170 (Apr. 3, 2017), authorizes the Court to reduce Defendant's sentence, despite the statutory mandatory minimum.

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court has jurisdiction to modify a term of imprisonment, after it has been imposed, only where expressly permitted by 18 U.S.C. § 3582 (“Section 3582”). United States v. Phillips, 597 F.3d 1190, 1194-95 (11th Cir. 2010). Section 3582 authorizes the modification of a sentence “(3) where a defendant has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that was subsequently lowered by the Commission and certain other requirements are met.” Id. at 1195 (internal citation omitted) (citing 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)). However, “a reduction in the defendant's term of imprisonment is not authorized under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c) [if an] . . . amendment does not have the effect of lowering the defendant's applicable guidelines range because of the operation of . . . another statutory provision.” U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10 app. Note 1(a).

         Amendment 782 to the Sentencing Guidelines modified U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c)'s Drug Quantity Table, which provides the base offense levels for different quantities of various controlled substances. Amendment 788 to the Sentencing Guidelines made retroactive the Amendment 782 sentence reduction.

         Amendment 782 lowers Defendant's Guidelines range on the Drugs and Firearms Charges. At sentencing, the Court ...


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