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United States v. Lee

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

December 9, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JEFFREY EUGENE LEE.

          ORDER

          ELIZABETH A. KOVACHEVICH, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This cause is before the Court on:

Dkt. 1133 Motion for Reduction of Sentence Pursuant to Section 404(b) of the First Step Act of 2018
Dkt. 1142 First Step Memorandum
Dkt. 1147 Amended First Step Memorandum
Dkt. 1148 Response
Dkt. 1149 Reply
Dkt. 1154 Notice of New Authority

         Defendant Jeffrey Eugene Lee moves for a sentence reduction pursuant to Section 404(b) of the First Step Act of 2018. Defendant Lee argues that Defendant's current sentence of mandatory life imprisonment exceeds the mandatory minimum penalty authorized by the Fair Sentencing Act, made retroactive by the First Step Act. Defendant requests a reduction in sentence based on Defendant's post-conviction rehabilitation.

         The Government asserts that Defendant Lee is not eligible for a reduction of sentence as to Count 1 because the statutory penalty is not affected by the First Step Act, given that the crack cocaine attributable to Defendant Lee, 3845 grams, exceeds the 280-gram threshold required to trigger penalties under 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(b)(1)(A).

         The Government agrees that Defendant Lee is eligible for a sentence reduction as to Count 15, but opposes Defendant's Lee's Motion, in light of the extensive nature of Defendant Lee's crack cocaine conspiracy and prison disciplinary record.

         I. Background

         In Count 1 of the Superseding Indictment, Defendant Jeffrey Eugene Lee, with eight other co-conspirators, was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and to distribute quantities of a mixture and substance containing cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 846. (Dkt. 100).

         In Count 15 of the Superseding Indictment, Defendant Jeffrey Eugene Lee was charged with distribution of 50 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(a)(1). (Dkt. 100).

         The Government filed An Information and Notice of Prior Convictions prior to trial. (Dkt. 879-30). The Notice states that if Defendant is convicted on Count 1, and it is determined that Defendant has at least two prior convictions pursuant to 21 U.S.C. Sec. 851, Defendant must be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The Notice alleges two prior convictions, felony possession of marijuana in Pinellas Count, Florida, No. 85031675CFA, and possession of cocaine in Pinellas County Circuit Court, No. CRC88-00977CFANO-I.

         Defendant Jeffrey Eugene Lee proceeded to trial, and was found guilty on Counts 1 and 15. (Dkt. 475). Defendant Lee was sentenced on July 23, 1992 to life imprisonment on Counts 1 and 15, to be followed by a 10-year term of supervised release, and a special assessment fee of $100.00. (Dkts. 502, 504). Evidence and trial testimony established 3, 845 grams of crack cocaine were distributed by the Lee organization during the conspiracy. (Dkt. 1148, pp. 2-3; Dkts. 483, 484). There was no special verdict on drug quantity. (Dkt. 879-22).

         The U.S. Probation Office converted the conspiracy's crack cocaine quantity to cocaine, added that conversion to a quantity of seized cocaine, and determined the total equivalent weight was 380.1 kilograms of cocaine, with a base offense level of 36. (PSR, par. 23). The U.S. Probation Office applied a 2-level firearm enhancement, a 4-level organizer enhancement, and a 2-level obstruction enhancement. (PSR., pars. 24, 26, 27). Defendant Lee's total offense level exceeded level 43, so 43 became the operative offense level. (PSR, par. 30.) Defendant Lee faced a guidelines range of life imprisonment based on his total offense level of 43 and criminal history category of III. (PSR, pars. 30, 37, 45). Defendant Lee also faced a statutorily enhanced sentence of life imprisonment based on Defendant's prior convictions. (Dkt. 459, PSR, par. 43).

         At sentencing, Defendant Lee objected to the amount of drugs used to establish Defendant's base offense level; the firearm enhancement, the obstruction of justice enhancement, the adjustment for role in the offense, and the district court's reliance of Defendant's guilty plea to possession of cocaine as a prior ...


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