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United States v. Goba

December 14, 2007

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
YAHYA GOBA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William M. Skretny United States District Judge

DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendant Yahya Goba is one of six individuals arrested and charged in this district in September of 2002 with providing material support to a terrorist organization. The defendants became nationally known as the Lackawanna Six. With one exception, each defendant, including Goba, pled guilty to providing material support to a terrorist organization in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2339B. Goba entered his guilty plea on March 25, 2003, and this Court thereafter sentenced him to the statutory maximum term of imprisonment of 120 months on December 10, 2003. Familiarity with previous proceedings is presumed. See generally United States v. Goba, 240 F.Supp.2d 242 (W.D.N.Y. 2003); United States v. Goba, 220 F.Supp.2d 182 (W.D.N.Y. 2002).

Presently before this Court is the Government's Motion to Reduce Goba's sentence by 12 months pursuant to Rule 35(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. In support of its motion, the Government has filed the affidavit of lead prosecutor William J. Hochul, Jr., Chief of the National Security Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York. Therein, Hochul describes the valuable assistance Goba has provided to the Government in a number of high profile and important terrorism prosecutions. The Government's motion is further supported by a 23-page sealed submission filed by Goba's lawyer, which further details Goba's significant cooperation.*fn1 This Court has carefully considered the parties' submissions and concludes that Goba has earned the sentence reduction requested by the Government. Accordingly, the Government's motion is granted, and Goba's sentence is reduced from 120 months to 108 months.

II. DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS

A. Rule 35(b): Reducing a Sentence for Substantial Assistance

Rule 35(b)(1) permits a court, upon the Government's motion within one year of sentencing, to reduce a defendant's sentence if he "provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person; and reducing the sentence accords with the Sentencing Commission's guidelines and policy statements." Fed. R. Crim. P. 35(b)(1)(A) & (B). If the Government's motion is made more than one year after sentencing, which is the case here, the defendant's substantial assistance must involve the following type of information:

(A) information not known to the defendant until one year or more after sentencing;

(B) information provided by the defendant to the government within one year of sentencing; but which did not become useful to the government until more than one year after sentencing; or

(C) information the usefulness of which could not reasonably have been anticipated by the defendant until more than one year after sentencing and which was promptly provided to the government after its usefulness was reasonably apparent to the defendant.

Fed. R. Crim. P. 35(b)(2)(A)--(C).

The Second Circuit has held that Rule 35 motions are akin to those brought under § 5K1.1 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, and should therefore be construed similarly. See United States v. Gangi, 45 F.3d 28, 31 (2d Cir. 1995) ("We are persuaded that, due to similarity in language and function, § 5K1.1 should inform our construction of Rule 35(b)."); see also United States v. Suarzo, No. 96 CR 450, 2000 WL 1558737, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 18, 2000). Both motions are premised on a defendant's substantial assistance to the Government; the only practical difference is that Rule 35 rewards post-sentencing assistance, while § 5K1.1 rewards assistance provided before sentencing. See Gangi, 45 F.3d at 30. As such, the following factors are considered in evaluating a Rule 35 motion:

(1) the court's evaluation of the significance and usefulness of the defendant's assistance, taking into consideration the government's ...


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