United States District Court, C.D. California
CHRISTINA A. SNYDER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
20, 2014, pursuant to a plea agreement, defendant Aziz Meghji
entered guilty pleas to count one, conspiracy to make false
statements to federally insured financial institutions and to
commit wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, and
to count thirty-three, aggravated identity theft, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A. United States v.
Meghji, et al., 12-CR-851-CAS-2 (“CR”), dkt.
155. Defendant's guilty plea stemmed from his involvement
in a mortgage fraud and equity-skimming scheme in which
defendant and his co-conspirators engaged in a real estate
fraud scheme, which stole equity from homeowners and
defrauded banks through fraudulent loans.
Presentence Report calculated defendant's offense level
at 32 for the conspiracy count. CR dkt. 265
(“PSR”) at 18-22. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
1028A, the PSR calculated a two-year mandatory minimum term
of imprisonment for the aggravated identity theft count,
running consecutively to any other term of imprisonment.
Id. at 17, 30.
government largely concurred with the PSR, but argued that
with respect to the conspiracy count, the base offense level
should be 7, the victim adjustment should add 4 points, and
thus the calculated offense level should be 35. CR dkt. 330
at 5-10. After adjusting the level to 25 (equivalent to the
60-month statutory maximum for this count), the government
moved for a 4-level downward departure for defendant's
substantial assistance to the government pursuant to U.S.S.G.
§ 5K1.1-from level 25 to 21-and also moved for a 2-point
downward variance to level 19 pursuant to United States
v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005) and 18 U.S.C. §
3553(a). Id. at 17-22.
response, and with respect to the conspiracy count, defendant
argued for a 7-level section 5K1.1 departure and a 4-level
Booker variance. CR dkts. 325 at 2; 340 at 14-15.
sentencing, the Court adopted the government's 4-level
section 5K1.1 departure and increased the Booker
variance to 4 levels because of defendant's
characteristics. Dkt. 14 & Ex. 6, RT 1/4/2016: 23-24.
Consequently, on January 6, 2016, the Court entered judgment
and committed Aziz Meghji to a 48-month term of imprisonment:
24 months for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and loan fraud,
and a mandatory consecutive term of 24 months for aggravated
identify theft. CR dkt. 348.
April 26, 2017, defendant-acting pro se-filed a letter with
the Court entitled “Motion to Reduce Time to be Served
in Incarceration & Hopefully Get Supervised Early
Release.” Dkt. 1 (“Motion”). On August
30, 2017, the government filed a motion to dismiss
defendant's Motion and characterized defendant's
motion as a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2255. Dkt.
December 28, 2017, the Court notified defendant that he may
(a) file a statement consenting to the government's
characterization of his request for sentence relief as a
motion to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence under 28
U.S.C. section 2255, or (b) withdraw his request and file a
motion bringing all claims for relief pursuant to section
2255 in a single, all-inclusive motion. See Dkt. 16
(“Order”). If defendant chose not to file a
response to the Order within 60 days, the Court indicted that
it would not construe defendant's request as a section
2255 motion, and indicated that it may instead construe
defendant's request as a motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
section 2241 or 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2). See
id. Defendant did not respond to the Court's
notification within 60 days; accordingly, the Court shall
construe defendant's request as a motion pursuant to 18
U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2).
requests the Court to reduce his sentencing due to his
cooperation with the government, his knowledge of the plea
agreement, and his lack of other criminal history. Motion at
1-2. In particular, defendant asserts that he was “the
main information link for the prosecution” and that he
did not realize that, as part of his plea agreement, he would
be “looking at four years of jail time.”
Id. at 1. Defendant contends that other than the
events leading to his conviction, he has never been involved
in criminal acts or conspiracies. Id. Defendant also
asserts that, unrelated to the criminal charges, he received
his broker's license in October of 2010 and did not
conduct illegal transactions while operating under this
license; upon his indictment in September 2012, he
“gave up all interest in conducting real estate
business” in a good faith showing of transparency.
Id. at 2. During an approximately four-year period
of supervised release, defendant contends that he became a
successful manager at U-Haul and developed a position
reputation with his clients and supervisors. Id. In
light of the above considerations, and because defendant
seeks to be reunited with his wife and children, defendant
seeks the consideration of the Court to reduce his sentence.
motion to dismiss, the government notes that during
defendant's plea colloquy, defendant was accurately
advised of the maximum term of imprisonment if he pleaded
guilty to counts 1 and 33-seven years-and that defendant
acknowledged that he “fully underst[ood] the nature of
the charges against [him] and the possible maximum sentence
[he] could receive as well as any possible mandatory minimum
in [the] case.” MTD at 4. The government construes
defendant's motion as a motion for relief from his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. section 2255-contending that
section 2255 is the sole remedy for attacks to his conviction
and sentence-and argues that, pursuant to section 2255, the
instant motion is time-barred. Id. at 2, 7.
defendant did not respond to the Court's December 28,
2017 Order, the Court construes defendant's request as a
motion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2). Eligibility
for consideration under section 3582(c) is triggered only by
an amendment listed in U.S.S.G. section 1B1.10(c) that lowers
the guideline range. A court may not reduce a sentence that
resulted from guidelines other than those revised by the
amendments listed in U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(c). In relevant
part, 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2) provides that [t]he court
may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been
imposed except that-in the case of a defendant who has been
sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing
range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing
Commission ... the court may reduce the term of imprisonment,
after considering the factors set forth in Section 3553(a) to
the extent they are applicable....A motion brought pursuant
to § 3582(c)(2), however, “is not a second
opportunity to present mitigating factors to the sentencing
judge, nor is it a challenge to the original sentence.”
United States v. Whitebird, 55 F.3d 1007, 1011 (5th
Cir.1995). “Rather, it is simply a vehicle through
which appropriately sentenced prisoners can urge the court to
exercise leniency to give certain defendants the benefits of
an amendment to the Guidelines.” Id.
whether a sentence reduction is appropriate under section
3582(c)(2) entails a two-step inquiry. See United States
v. Kou Yang, No. 08-CR-0093 KJM, 2018 WL 1173825, at *2
(E.D. Cal. Mar. 6, 2018) (citing United States v.
Dunn, 728 F.3d 1151, 1155 (9th Cir. 2013)). Step one
asks whether a prisoner is “eligible for a sentence
modification under the Commission's policy statement in
U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10.” Id. (citing
Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 817-18
(2010)). That policy statement enumerates a list of
Guidelines amendments that are available to retroactively
reduce sentences imposed for certain offenses. See
U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(d). If the answer at step one is no,
the analysis ends there and the court lacks jurisdiction to
modify the sentence under section 3582(c)(2). See
id. (citing United States v. ...