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Defendants' drug sentences ineligible for reduction

May 31, 2012

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sentences of six members of a Gary street gang for various crack cocaine and other offenses, finding none of the men are eligible to have their sentences reduced based on the retroactive crack cocaine amendments to the sentencing guidelines.

The appeals by Bobby Suggs, Aaron Davis, Sentai Suggs, Terraun Price, Terence Dilworth and William Davison were consolidated before the 7th Circuit. All appealed the denial of their motions to have their sentences reduced. Bobby and Sentai Suggs and Terraun Price were sentenced to life imprisonment; Davis received 405 months in prison; and Dilworth and Davison received 360-month sentences. At their sentencing hearings, the District Court concluded that each was responsible for distributing in excess of 1.5 kilograms of crack cocaine, but larger amounts attributable to each defendant were mentioned at their hearings.

After the United States Sentencing Commission adopted Amendment 706 in 2007, which lowered the base offense level for crack cocaine offenses by two levels, the men requested sentence reductions. When they were sentenced, 1.5 kilograms or more of crack cocaine was assigned the highest possible base offense level of 38, after the amendment, only offenses of 4.5 kilograms or more would receive that level. Offenses between 1.5 kilograms and 4.5 kilograms received a base level offense of 36.

The District Court upheld each man’s sentence, finding it did not have statutory authority and jurisdiction to reduce Bobby Suggs’ sentence because his guideline range hadn’t been lowered by the amendment. With regards to the other men, the District Court found more than 4.5 kilograms of crack cocaine could be attributed to them, so their guideline range wasn’t impacted by the amendment.

The 7th Circuit agreed in United States of America v. Aaron M. Davis, Bobby Suggs, et al., 11-1313, 11-1323, et al., noting that at the men’s original sentencing hearings, the presentence investigation reports and judge had discussed higher amounts each man could be responsible for, including more than 17 kilos to Bobby Suggs.  

 

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