Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (Crim. No. 3-08-527-1) District Judge: Honorable Joel A. Pisano Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (Crim. No. 3-08-445-2) District Judge: Honorable Joel A. Pisano
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Vanaskie, Circuit Judge.
Submitted Pursuant to LAR 34.1(a)
Before: BARRY, CHAGARES, and VANASKIE, Circuit
These consolidated appeals present the question of whether the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 124 Stat. 2372 (2010) ("FSA"), may be applied retroactively to authorize the District Court to impose a sentence below the prescribed mandatory minimum prison term in effect at the time the Appellants were sentenced. We answer the question in the negative, and thus affirm the sentences imposed by the District Court.
On December 7, 2009, Appellant Richard Reevey pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a), 841(b)(1)(B), and 846. Section 841(b)(1)(B) of Title 21 U.S.C. prescribes a mandatory minimum prison term of five years and a maximum prison term of forty years.*fn1 Reevey stipulated in his plea agreement that his offense conduct, which occurred in March of 2007, included 10.8 grams of cocaine base. On March 11, 2010, the District Court sentenced Reevey to the mandatory minimum term of five years.
On August 26, 2009, Appellant Anthony Williams entered a plea of guilty to a superseding Information charging him with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(B), and 846. Williams‟ criminal conduct took place between August of 2007 and January of 2008. In his plea agreement, Williams stipulated that "the offense and relevant conduct involved between 5 and 20 grams of cocaine base." (A. 42.) Hence, Williams was also subject to the mandatory minimum prison term. On March 11, 2010, Williams was sentenced to the five-year mandatory minimum sentence. Responding to Williams‟ request for a downward departure based on the disparity in treatment between crack and powder cocaine offenders, the District Court, after noting that the "issue has been taken up by Congress," declined to grant a downward departure. (A. 93.)
Both Reevey and Williams appealed their sentences, arguing that the District Court erred in refusing to impose a sentence below the statutory mandatory prison term of five years.*fn2 The District Court had jurisdiction pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3231. We have jurisdiction under 18 U.S.C. § 3742(a).
Ordinarily, district court sentences are reviewed under a "deferential abuse-of-discretion standard." Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 41 (2007). Where, however, the challenge to the sentence concerns the interpretation of a statute, we exercise plenary ...