United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Victor M. Gonzalez
Vazquez's (“Defendant”) Motion for Reduction
of Sentence Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Dkt. #
127. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS IN
PART Defendant's Motion.
April 13, 2011, Defendant was found guilty by a jury of
possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and
sentenced to 144 months imprisonment. Dkt. ## 83, 84, 90. On
July 8, 2011, Defendant was sentenced to 144 months
imprisonment. Dkt. # 89. At the sentencing hearing, the Court
adjusted Defendant's base offense level was 36 (upwardly
adjusted two levels due to a finding of perjury) with a
criminal history level of II. Dkt. # 98. The applicable
guideline calculation suggested a sentencing range of 210-262
months of imprisonment. Id. The Court imposed a
sentence below the applicable sentencing range based on 18
U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors. Dkt. ## 89, 98 at 13-16.
appealed his conviction and sentence, and the Ninth Circuit
affirmed Defendant's conviction but vacated the sentence
and remanded for resentencing. Dkt. # 106. On November 8,
2013, the Court again imposed a sentence of 144 months. Dkt.
## 118, 123. The Court then found that Defendant again had a
base offense level of 34, after a two-level upward adjustment
for obstruction of justice, and a two-level reduction for
safety valve, resulting in a criminal history category of I
and a range of 151-188 months. Dkt. # 123 at 20-25. During
these proceedings, Defendant presented his drug addiction as
one of several mitigating circumstances. Id. At the
time, the Court, considering the entire record before it,
determined that reimposing the below-guidelines 144 month
sentence was reasonable, sufficient, but no more than
necessary to carry out the objectives of the sentence.
Id. at 24.
now moves to reduce his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2). Dkt. # 127. Defendant contends that he is
entitled to a sentence reduction based on Amendment 782 to
the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG”),
based in large part on his previous drug addiction and
positive post-sentencing behavior. The Government agrees that
Defendant is eligible for a reduction, but opposes any such
reduction. Dkt. # 130. Defendant has not filed a reply to the
initial matter, the Court must determine whether Defendant is
eligible for a sentence reduction. On April 30, 2014, the
Sentencing Commission promulgated Amendment 782, revising the
Drug Quantity Table and chemical quality tables, which
amended the guideline ranges for crimes involving narcotics.
On July 18, 2014, the Sentencing Commission voted to make
Amendment 782 retroactively applicable to previously
sentenced prisoners, and the amendment became effective on
November 1, 2014. Thus, under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2),
previously sentenced prisoners may move to modify their
sentences on the basis of the amendment. 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2) allows for a defendant to move to reduce a term of
imprisonment when that term is based on a sentencing range
that has been subsequently lowered by the Sentencing
defendant to qualify for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C.
§ 3582(c)(2), two conditions are necessary: “(1)
the defendant must have been sentenced to a term of
imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has been
lowered by a retroactively applicable Guidelines amendment;
and (2) the sentence reduction sought must be consistent with
the Sentencing Commission's applicable policy
statements.” United States v. Zapata, No.
CR07-0343-JLR, 2016 WL 7336159, at *1 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 8,
2016) (citing United States v. Waters, 771 F.3d 679,
680 (9th Cir. 2014) (per curiam)); see also Dillon v.
United States, 560 U.S. 817 (2010). The Court lacks
jurisdiction to reduce a defendant's sentence if either
of these conditions are not met. United States v.
Wesson, 583 F.3d 728, 730 (9th Cir. 2009).
both parties agree that Mr. Gonzalez Vazquez is eligible for
a retroactive sentencing reduction, and that the Court has
discretion to lower Mr. Gonzalez Vazquez's sentence from
144 months to 121 months. Dkt. ## 127 at 2; 130 at 4-7.
Defendant's current sentence is based on a drug quantity
of 420.7 grams of methamphetamine. Under Amendment 782, the
base offense level corresponding to that drug quantity was
reduced by 2 levels from 34 to 32. Consequently, Mr.
Vazquez's adjusted offense level, which is currently 34,
is reduced by two levels to 32. Mr. Vazquez's criminal
history category is I. Previously, Defendant's sentencing
range was 151-188 months; the new sentencing, based on
Defendant's reduced offense level and criminal history
category, is 121-151 months. The Court accordingly has
discretion to reduce Defendant's sentence to 121 months,
but no lower. USSG § 1B1.10(b)(2)(A); United States
v. Davis, 739 F.3d 1222, 1224 (9th Cir. 2014).
to the next step, Application note 1(B) to USSG § 1B1.10
directs that subject to the limits set forth in USSG §
1B1.10(b), the Court may consider all pertinent information
in applying the § 3553(a) factors and determining
whether and by how much to reduce Defendant's sentence.
In particular, Application note 1(B)(ii) directs that the
Court must consider “the nature and seriousness of the
danger to any person or the community that may be posed by a
reduction in the defendant's term of imprisonment.”
Application note 1(B)(iii) further directs that “[t]he
court may consider post-sentencing conduct of the defendant
that occurred after the imposition of the original term of
reviewing the record before it, the Court commends
Defendant's efforts to further his education and to take
steps toward rehabilitation. The Court notes that Defendant
has successfully completed his GED and has kept a clean
disciplinary record for multiple years. Dkt. # 127-1 at
10-17. Defendant has also apparently rebuffed some attempts
by other inmates to rejoin the drug trade while in prison,
and cooperated with prison officials. Dkt. # 127-1 at 11.
Previously, this Court noted that Defendant's lack of
gainful employment indicated that he had very little
meaningful work experience outside of dealing drugs. Dkt. #
98 at 13; Dkt. # 123 at 22. These recent efforts suggest that
Defendant is taking small, but potentially meaningful, steps
to extricate himself from the drug trade. The Court believes
these efforts may in turn deserve a small reduction in
the Court declines to grant Defendant's requested
reduction in full. Defendant committed a very serious crime,
and Defendant's Motion primarily relies on the same
addiction and background-based arguments that the Court has
already seen. The Court had already considered
Defendant's addiction and family situation in previous
sentencings and sees no need to revisit those findings. Dkt.
# 98 at 13-15. The Court reaffirms its prior determination
that Defendant turned his back on a relatively favorable
family situation and had a level of involvement in the drug
trade that extended far beyond mere use. The Court still
believe that his previous actions endangered himself, his
family, and the public.
Court twice imposed a 144 month sentence that it believed,
based on the record before it, would promote respect for the
law, provide just punishment, provide adequate deterrence,
and protect the public. Although Defendant presents some new
evidence of post-sentencing conduct, this new evidence
largely does not change the reasons the Court previously gave
for the appropriateness of the 144 month sentence. Moreover,
as the Government notes, the 144 month sentence is well
within the new sentencing range of 121-151 months. Dkt. # 13
at 13. Despite the recent evidence of good ...