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United States v. Charlton

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 16, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
MICHAEL CHARLTON, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          HON. WILLIAM F. KUNTZ, II UNITED STATES DIS/RICT JUDGE.

         On September 1, 2016, the defendant, Michael Charlton, pleaded guilty to one count of Importation of Cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 952(a) and 21 U.S.C. 960(a)(1). The Court now sentences the defendant and provides a complete statement of reasons pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(c)(2) of those factors set forth by Congress and the President and contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). For the reasons discussed below, the defendant is hereby sentenced to 12 months and 1 day incarceration and a $100.00 special assessment.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 9, 2016, the United States filed a Complaint against Michael Charlton ("Defendant") alleging Defendant had unlawfully imported cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, into the United States. Compl. at 1, ECF No. 1. The subsequent Indictment, filed on April 25, 2016, charged Defendant with two counts: (1) Importation of Cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 952(a) and 21 U.S.C. § 960(a)(1); and (2) Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 21 U.S.C. § 841 (b)(1)(C). Indictment at 1, ECF No. 7. On September 1, 2016, Defendant pleaded guilty to Count One of the Indictment pursuant to a Plea Agreement. See Plea Agreement, ECF No. 17.

         The Court hereby sentences Defendant and sets forth its reasons for Defendant's sentence using the rubric of the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(c)(2).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         18 U.S.C. § 3553 outlines the procedures for imposing a sentence in a criminal case. If and when a district court chooses to impose a sentence outside of the Sentencing Guidelines range, the court "shall state in open court the reasons for its imposition of the particular sentence, and ... the specific reason for the imposition of a sentence different from that described" in the Guidelines. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(c)(2). The court must also "state[] with specificity" its reasons for so departing "in a statement of reasons form." Id.

         "The sentencing court's written statement of reasons shall be a simple, fact-specific statement explaining why the guidelines range did not account for a specific factor or factors under § 3553(a)." United States v. Davis, 08-CR-332, 2010 WL 1221709, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. Mar. 29, 2010) (Weinstein, J.). Section 3553(a) provides a set of seven factors for the Court to consider in determining what sentence to impose on a criminal defendant. The Court addresses each in turn.

         II. Analysis

         A. Factor One: The Nature and Circumstances of the Offense and the History and Characteristics of the Defendant

         The first § 3553(a) factor requires the Court to evaluate "the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant." 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(1).

         Defendant was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on December 10, 1997, to Norman Charlton and Jacquelyn Bailey. Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR") ¶ 27, ECF No. 18. Defendant's parents were never married, and he was raised primarily by his mother, a schoolteacher. Id. ¶¶ 27, 29. Ms. Bailey has financially supported Defendant for his entire life, including by paying to treat his asthma, which he developed at age four. Id. ¶¶ 29, 32, 38. Between February 2010 and January 2011, both of Defendant's grandfathers passed away and Defendant's father was killed in a gas explosion. Id. ¶ 27; see also Bailey Support Letter at 1, ECF No. 19-1. Shortly thereafter, Defendant began to exhibit anger management issues. PSR ¶ 33. Ms. Bailey invested in individual talk therapy with a counselor, but the treatment did little to help Defendant. Id. The situation grew worse in 2012, when Defendant began high school at Kingston College in Jamaica. Id. ¶ 37. He fell in "with the wrong crowd, " which prompted Ms. Bailey to arrange for his transfer to Highdel High School in September 2014. Id. In January 2015, Ms. Bailey arranged for Defendant to transfer a second time, to Linton Academy, for the same reason. Id. Defendant's behavioral issues persisted, and he began to smoke marijuana on a weekly basis. Id. ¶ 36. Later that year, he sustained a collapsed lung after being stabbed in the back during a fight. Id. ¶ 34. Defendant nevertheless avoided disciplinary problems while in school and as of his arrest date, he was in good academic standing and on schedule to take his high school exit examinations in May 2016. Id. ¶ 37.

         On April 8, 2016, Defendant was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport ("JFK") in Queens, New York. Id. ¶¶ 2, 37. Defendant's cousin, Gavin Seaton, had arranged for Defendant to transport a suitcase containing cocaine from Jamaica to the United States. Id. ¶ 4. Defendant had received a suitcase and $700.00 from two men in Jamaica, who instructed Defendant to get a haircut and a shave and fly to JFK, where he would meet Mr. Seaton and deliver the suitcase to an address in Brooklyn, New York. Id. Defendant was told he would be paid between $3, 000.00 and $4, 000.00, in total, for completing the transaction. Id. When Defendant arrived at JFK, however, he was selected for an enforcement examination by U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") officers. Id. ΒΆ 2. After searching ...


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