FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW
HAMPSHIRE [Hon. Joseph A. DiClerico, U.S. District Judge]
E. Kenna, on brief for appellant.
R. Aframe, Assistant United States Attorney, and Emily Gray
Rice, United States Attorney, on brief for appellee.
Torruella, Lynch, and Barron, Circuit Judges.
TORRUELLA, Circuit Judge.
Raymond Negrón appeals the United States District
Court for the District of New Hampshire's decision to
deny a retroactive reduction to his sentence pursuant to 18
U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). Negrón had previously
entered into plea agreement pursuant to Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), which "bind[s] the
district court to a pre-agreed sentence if the court accepts
the plea." United States v.
Rivera-Martínez, 665 F.3d 344, 345 (1st Cir.
2011). Under so-called C-type plea agreements, a defendant is
eligible for a sentence reduction based on a retroactive
amendment to the United States Sentencing Guidelines
("Guidelines") only if the term of imprisonment
specified in the agreement is "based on" a
Guidelines sentencing range. We agree with the district court
that the proposed sentenced in Negrón's plea
agreement failed to meet this requirement and affirm.
August 22, 2012, a federal grand jury returned a nine-count
indictment against Negrón. Negrón and the
Government subsequently reached a plea agreement in which
Negrón pled guilty to counts one through eight. The
Government dismissed count nine, which carried a mandatory
minimum consecutive sentence of 120 months' imprisonment.
See 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(B)(i).
Negrón's plea agreement was made pursuant to
Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C). Under
so-called C-type plea agreements, "the parties bind the
district court to a pre-agreed sentence if the court accepts
the plea." Rivera-Martínez, 665 F.3d at
345. Although the plea agreement did not state a base level
offense, applicable Guidelines range, or criminal history
category ("CHC"), the parties stipulated that
Negrón would be sentenced to 144 months'
district court conducted a sentencing hearing on June 13,
2013, and determined that Negrón had a total base
offense level of 25 and CHC of I, corresponding to a
Guidelines range sentence of 57 to 71 months'
imprisonment. Noting that the stipulated sentence was
"slightly over twice the high end of the advisory
guideline, " the district court accepted the plea
agreement and imposed the stipulated sentence.
2014, the United States Sentencing Commission retroactively
reduced the base offense level for many drug offenses by two
levels. See U.S.S.G. § 1B1.10(a)(1); U.S.S.G.
supplement to app. C amend. 782 (Nov. 1, 2014); United
States v. Vaughn, 806 F.3d 640, 643 (1st Cir.
2015). Because several of his convictions were for controlled
substance offenses, Negrón subsequently filed a motion
to modify his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(2). The district court denied Negrón's
motion, concluding that Negrón's sentence was not
based on a Guidelines sentencing range affected by an
amendment. This timely appeal followed.
district court performs a "two-step inquiry" in
determining whether a defendant is entitled to a sentence
reduction under § 3582(c)(2). Dillon v.
United States, 560 U.S. 817, 826 (2010). First, the
district court must determine whether any applicable
Guidelines amendments apply to the defendant's sentence.
Id. at 826-27. Second, if the district court
concludes the defendant is eligible for relief, it must weigh
the sentencing factors described in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)
and determine whether a reduction is warranted. Id.
Here, the sole issue on appeal is whether the district court
properly applied our decision in
Rivera-Martínez, 665 F.3d at 344, to conclude
that Negrón was ineligible for relief. Although
"[w]e review a district court's denial of a motion
for reduction of sentence under section 3582(c)(2) for abuse
of discretion, " United States v.
Caraballo, 552 F.3d 6, 8 (1st Cir. 2008), because
Negrón contends the district court committed legal
error, our review is effectively de novo,
id. ("A material error of law is perforce an
abuse of discretion.").
may reduce the term of imprisonment for "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." 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The
term of imprisonment in a C-type plea agreement is
"based on" a Guidelines sentencing range in two
scenarios: (1) when the agreement "calls for a sentence
within an identified sentencing range, "
Rivera-Martínez, 665 F.3d at 348, and (2)
when "the terms contained within the four corners of the
plea agreement, " id. at 349, "make clear
that the basis for a specified term of imprisonment is a
Guidelines sentencing range applicable to the offense to
which the defendant pleaded guilty, " id. at
348 (alterations omitted) (quoting Freeman v. United
States, 564 U.S. 522, 539 (2011) (Sotomayor, J.,
acknowledges his term of imprisonment is not within a
specific Guidelines sentencing range, but argues that his
plea agreement fell into this second category. As in
Rivera-Martínez, however, Negrón's
plea agreement lacks the "two essential
coordinates" that show a Guidelines sentencing range
underpins the proposed sentence. Id. at 349. In that
case, we found that a C-type plea agreement that failed to
specify a CHC (despite specifying a base offense level) could
not be considered to be based on a Guidelines sentencing
range. Id. Negrón's case is even weaker
because his plea agreement contains neither a base offense
level nor a CHC. Absent either of these two essential
coordinates, we cannot conclude Negrón's plea
agreement was based on a Guidelines sentencing range.
Negrón contends that we can infer both numbers from
the four corners of his plea agreement. With respect to the
base offense level, Negrón argues his plea agreement
contains all of the facts necessary to calculate this
integer. With respect to his CHC, Negrón claims this
number was never seriously contested, due to his relatively
sparse criminal record, and is obvious from his presentence
report. Finally, Negrón cites the fact that at his
sentencing hearing the district court acknowledged that 144
months' imprisonment was equal to doubling the high end
of the applicable Guidelines range and ...