US v. Jerrell Thomas, No. 20-6234 (4th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
Defendant pled guilty to Continuing a Criminal Enterprise (“CCE”) and Money Laundering. During his sentencing, and under the 1994 Sentencing Guidelines, the district court sentenced Defendant to 420 months’ incarceration on the CCE offense and 240 months’ incarceration for money laundering, to be served concurrently. Defendant later filed a pro se motion to reduce his sentence pursuant to the First Step Act of 2018 (“FSA”), which the district court denied on grounds that Defendant’s convictions were not covered offenses. On appeal, Defendant argued that his CCE offense is a covered offense under the FSA because Congress amended the crack cocaine drug weight required to trigger a mandatory life sentence under Section 848(b).
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision finding that Defendant’s conviction under Sections 848 (a) and (c) and pursuant to Terry is not a covered offense under the First Step Act of 2018. The court reasoned that though the Act did modify the penalties for Defendant’s predicate violations under 841(a)(1) and 846, Defendant’s statutory penalty range for violating 848(a) and (c) remained the same before and after the FSA. Thus, because Defendant is serving a sentence for violating 848(a) and (c), his offense is not a covered offense under the FSA.