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United States v. Lucas

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

March 17, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee,
v.
TERRELL LUCAS, AKA Ruger Rell, MICHAEL GLOVER, AKA Mike-Mike, JAMES HARDY, AKA Light, Defendants - Appellants, PRESTON HARDY, AKA Peanut, JAMES GLOVER, AKA Tone, TERRANCE GONZALEZ, AKA Gucci, AKA Geeze, AUDAI HOWARD, AKA Buck, JOSHUA JENKINS, MIGUEL MARQUEZ, AKA Mikey, AKA Corleone, GENE THOMAS, AKA J-Biz, SHAWN THOMAS, AKA Bigs, BRANDON WILLIAMS, AKA Big Boy, Defendants

Argued: March 4, 2014.

Defendants-Appellants Terrell Lucas, Michael Glover, and James Hardy pled guilty to drug distribution and gun charges stemming from a long-running drug trafficking conspiracy. On appeal, they argue that the district court misunderstood its authority to run their federal sentences concurrently with prior discharged terms in state prison. Because both U.S.S.G. § 5G1.3(b) and 18 U.S.C. § 3584(a) empower district courts to run sentences concurrently only to " undischarged" terms of imprisonment, we affirm the district court's judgment.

RICHARD PALMA, ESQ., New York, New York, for Defendant-Appellant Terrell Lucas.

PAUL P. RINALDO, ESQ., Grossman & Rinaldo, Forest Hills, New York, for Defendant-Appellant Michael Glover.

FRANCISCO E. CELEDONIO, ESQ., Law Office of Francisco Celedonio, New York, New York for Defendant-Appellant James Hardy.

ANDREW BAUER, Assistant United States Attorney (Justin Anderson, Assistant United States Attorney, on the brief), for Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, New York, New York.

Before: PARKER, LYNCH, and DRONEY, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 627

PER CURIAM:

Defendants-Appellants pled guilty in the Southern District of New York (Cathy Seibel, Judge ) to conspiring to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841(a), 841(b),

Page 628

and 846, and to using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to that conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The district court sentenced all three defendants to the mandatory minimum term of imprisonment on both counts, ten years for the drug charge,[1] and five years for the gun charge. At issue in this sentencing appeal is whether the district court had authority to impose less than the mandatory minimum sentences by running those sentences concurrently to completed prison terms appellants previously served on related state charges.

Appellants all participated in the charged conspiracy for several years prior to their federal indictment. All served time in state prison for crimes that were part of the conspiracy and those offenses were " relevant conduct" under U.S.S.G. § 1B1.3 for the federal crimes. All finished serving those sentences before they pled guilty in federal court. But at sentencing, the district court concluded that it did not have authority to adjust appellants' sentences by running those sentences concurrently to those discharged terms.

The Sentencing Guidelines instruct district courts to run a prison term " concurrently to the remainder of [any] undischarged term of imprisonment" if the recommended " term of imprisonment resulted from another offense that is relevant conduct to the... offense of conviction." U.S.S.G. § 5G1.3(b). In other words, when the defendant is serving time on a prior conviction that relates to the new charge, the Guidelines direct that the defendant serve the new sentence parallel to the old.[2] The Sentencing Commission grounds the Guideline in the power vested in district courts by 18 U.S.C. § 3584(a). See § 5G1.3 cmt. background. That statute gives district courts discretion to run a sentence concurrently where " a term of imprisonment is imposed on a defendant who is already subject to an undischarged term of imprisonment," although the statute also makes clear that a court retains the discretion to run terms consecutively when it sees fit. In United States v. Rivers,329 F.3d 119 (2d Cir. 2003), we held that a 46-month sentence did not dip below the mandatory 60-month statutory minimum because it actually reflected a 64-month sentence imposed concurrently with an undischarged state term of imprisonment where the ...


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