United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
BARRY FISCHER SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court is Defendant Wanda Solomon's Motion for
Reduction of Sentence and Request for Expedited Consideration
(Docket No. 284 at Crim. No. 05-350; Docket No. 951 at Crim.
No. 05-385), the Government Response in Opposition thereto
(Docket No. 289 at Crim. No. 05-350; Docket No. 958 at Crim.
No. 05-385); Defendant's Reply (Docket No. 294 at Crim.
No. 05-350; Docket No. 970 at Crim. No. 05-385) and the
Government's Sur-reply (Docket No. 296 at Crim. No.
05-350; Docket No. 972 at Crim. No. 05-385). Upon careful
consideration of the parties' respective positions set
forth in the briefing and a review of the record in this
case, Defendant's Motion is DENIED.
ran a large-scale cocaine distribution ring in Western
Pennsylvania, which involved numerous family members,
including one of her minor children. (Docket No. 943-1 at 2).
One of Defendant's co-conspirators was her son, Jelani
Solomon, who was eventually arrested and then ordered the
murder of an informant whom he believed had led to his
arrest. (Id.). Following Jelani's arrest,
Defendant continued trafficking in cocaine and attempted to
collect on drug debts owed to him. (Docket No. 958-1 at 34).
All told, Defendant's drug trafficking activities
continued for over a decade before she was charged in two
separate indictments in this District at Criminal Nos. 05-350
and 05-385. (Docket No. 943-1 at 2).
August 2, 2006, Defendant appeared before Judge Terrence F.
McVerry and pled guilty to Count One of the
Indictment at Criminal No. 05-350, which charged her with
conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute cocaine and 50 grams or more of crack cocaine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (hereinafter, “the
crack cocaine count”), and Count One of the Superseding
Indictment at Criminal No. 05-385, which charged her with
conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to
distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation of 21
U.S.C. § 846 (hereinafter, the “powder cocaine
sentencing hearing was held on March 20, 2007. At the time,
she was subject to a mandatory statutory term of not less
than ten (10) years and up to life imprisonment and five (5)
years' supervised release on both the crack cocaine and
the powder cocaine counts. (Docket No. 958-1 at 16). Prior to
sentencing, counsel for the parties reached a stipulation
that Defendant was responsible for more than 5 kilograms but
less than 15 kilograms of cocaine. (Docket No. 958-2 at 4-5,
15). As a result, Defendant's total offense level was 35,
and with a criminal history category of III, the advisory
guidelines range was 210 to 262 months' imprisonment.
(Id. at 5). As to Defendant's argument involving
a crack cocaine disparity, Judge McVerry explained that the
“disparity in this instance . . . is a distinction
without a difference . . . [b]ecause there are two
indictments . . . and the second indictment [at Criminal No.
05-385] involves a range of significant kilograms of cocaine,
[thus, ] the crack cocaine in the first indictment [at
Criminal No. 05-350] does not effectively increase the
sentencing guidelines calculation.” (Id. at
Judge McVerry sentenced Defendant to 240 months'
imprisonment on both the crack cocaine and powder cocaine
counts to be served concurrently, followed by concurrent
terms of five (5) years' supervised release at each
count. (Docket No. 958-2 at 49-50; Docket No. 376 at 2-3). In
imposing this sentence, Judge McVerry considered the
well-known sentencing factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. §
3553(a). As to the seriousness of Defendant's offenses
and the need to impose a lengthy sentence, Judge McVerry
The pervasiveness of your conspiracy is despicable; most
especially despicable because it appears as though almost
every sibling in your family was involved in criminal
activity one way or another, including having the involvement
to some degree of a minor . . . in transporting drugs and/or
money over the course of the time -- it's absolutely
incredible to me that everybody in the Solomon family was
involved in this criminal activity for a lengthy period of
It is clear that you had a major leadership role in the
conspiracy and you continued the conspiracy after the
horrific homicide of a helpless man . . . for virtually no
reason in the world. That you continued to run the business,
you continued to supply Jelani with money, you continued to
pay his bills, you continued to help [one of the
co-conspirators] after this incident.
Your prior criminal involvement and history is of no small
moment in my consideration of sentencing.
This sentence is based on the need to reflect the seriousness
of the offense, and the offense is imminently serious; to
promote respect for the law, which I hope you gain over the
course of the next 20 years; to provide just and sound
punishment for the offenses, which you deserve; to afford
adequate deterrence to criminal conduct; to protect the
public, especially the public in Beaver County, from further
crimes by you; and to provide you with needed educational or
vocational training, medical care, or other correctional
training, of which I hope you avail yourself in the most
effective manner while incarcerated.
(Docket No. 958-2 at 52-53).
filed a direct appeal, and the United States Court of Appeals
for the Third Circuit affirmed the District Court's
Judgment on June 1, 2009. (Docket No. 803). Defendant later
unsuccessfully attempted on numerous occasions to have her
sentence vacated or reduced. (Docket Nos. 806, 809, 829, 833,
834, 838, 868, 882, 914, 915, 916, 918).
also filed a motion for a sentence reduction as a result of
amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines which retroactively
reduced the base offense level for certain drug offenses,
which Judge McVerry denied on February 19, 2016. (Docket Nos.
923, 925). Judge McVerry recognized that Defendant was
technically eligible for consideration of a reduction, and
noted that the newly applicable advisory guidelines range
would be 168-210 months' imprisonment, but he declined to
exercise his discretion to reduce Defendant's sentence.
(Docket No. 925 at 1, 2, 3). In reaching that decision, Judge
McVerry considered Defendant's conduct and
accomplishments while ...