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Defendant entitled to resentencing under Fair Sentencing Act

February 7, 2013

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a northern Indiana man’s convictions of distributing crack cocaine and conspiracy to distribute the drug, but found that he is entitled to resentencing under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.

Landen Cowart, a former convict working as a confidential informant with the government, arranged to buy cocaine from Ronald Love, aka “Black.” On Sept. 9, 2009, he exchanged $550 in cash with Shelby Deloney, who asked Cowart if he was “with Black.” Ronald Love was in the car that Deloney arrived at the scene in.

Love suspected Cowart was behind the robbery of one of his crack houses, so at another arranged drug buy on Sept. 14, 2009, Love, Deloney and Robert Acklin began beating Cowart. Police heard the commotion over Cowart’s hidden wire and entered the house where the deal went down. Love was indicted in October but sentenced after August 2010.

Love argues that the evidence didn’t support his conspiracy conviction, the trial court improperly declined to give a “buyer-seller” jury instruction, the statement “with Black” was improperly admitted, and his sentence was improperly calculated.

The 7th Circuit found the government’s evidence was detailed enough to show there was an agreement for Love to distribute crack and that he was not entitled to the “buyer-seller” instruction because it contradicts his defense that he wasn’t involved in the Sept. 9 drug sale and that the Sept. 14 beating had nothing to do with drugs.

The judges upheld the admittance of Cowart’s testimony that Deloney asked if he was “with Black.”

But Love is entitled to resentencing because he did not benefit from the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which applies to people who committed crimes before Aug. 3, 2010, and were sentenced after that date. The District Court also incorrectly calculated the guidelines sentence for his drug conviction, but properly imposed a two-level sentencing enhancement for being an organizer, leader, manager or supervisor of the conspiracy.

The case, United States of America v. Ronald Love, 11-2547, goes back to the District Court for further proceedings.

 

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