United States v. Harden, No. 16-1227 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Based on a tip, DEA officers followed Harden and attempted a traffic stop. In attempting to evade officers, Harden attained speeds that were at least 21 miles per hour over the 25 mph speed limit. During the chase, he threw nearly two kilograms of cocaine out of the vehicle. The cocaine was subsequently recovered by law enforcement. Harden turned into a parking lot and made a U-turn, resulting in a collision with an agent’s vehicle. After the collision, the officers pulled Harden from the vehicle, which continued to move forward as his foot released the brake. Harden was uncooperative as he was arrested. Harden pled guilty, without an agreement, to possessing with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1). The district court sentenced him to the statutory mandatory minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment and five years’ supervised release, rejecting Harden’s argument that the “safety valve” provision in 18 U.S.C. 3553(f) applied to him, which would allow the court to impose a sentence beneath the mandatory minimums. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, upholding a finding that Harden’s action constituted acts of violence or the threat of violence. That finding rendered Harden ineligible for the two-level safety valve reduction.