United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Southern Division
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
September 20, 2017, defendant, Lewis Andrews, pleaded guilty
pursuant to a plea agreement to counts one and fifteen of the
superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to
violate the Animal Welfare Act in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 371 and 7 U.S.C. § 2156 and distribution of a
quantity of heroin and aiding and abetting in violation of 21
U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)( and 18 U.S.C. § 2.
Prior to sentencing, the government moved for an upward
variance from Andrews' advisory Sentencing Guidelines
range of 87-108 months' imprisonment. Andrews appeared
before the Court for sentencing on December 22, 2017, at
Raleigh, North Carolina, opposed the motion for upward
variance, and requested that the sentences on counts one and
fifteen be imposed to run concurrently. Andrews was sentenced
to a total term of 108 months' imprisonment. The Court
makes the following findings in support of its sentence.
to 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), a sentencing court has a duty to
"impose a sentence sufficient, but not greater than
necessary, to comply with the purposes set forth in the
[sentencing statute]." Once the defendant's United
States Sentencing Guidelines sentencing range has been
established, the sentencing court must decide "whether a
sentence within that range serves the factors set forth in
§ 3553(a) and, if not, select a sentence within
statutory limits that does serve those factors."
United States v. Tucker, 473 F.3d 556, 560 (4th Cir.
2007) (internal quotation and citation omitted). After
permitting the parties to argue with regard to sentencing,
the court should "consider all of the § 3553(a)
factors to determine whether they support the sentence
requested by a party." Gall v. United States,
552 U.S. 38, 49-50 (2007). The court must then "make an
individualized assessment based on the facts presented, [and
if it] decides that an outside-Guidelines sentence is
warranted, [it] must consider the extent of the deviation and
ensure that the justification is sufficiently compelling to
support the degree of the variance." Id. at 50.
The "method of deviation from the Guidelines
range-whether by departure or by varying-is irrelevant so
long as at least one rationale is justified and
reasonable." United States v. Diosdado-Star,
630 F.3d 359, 365-66 (4th Cir. 2011).
sentencing hearing, the Court determined that Andrews'
advisory Guidelines range was 87 to 108 months'
imprisonment as calculated by the United States Probation
Office. Neither defendant nor the government offered any
objections to the Guidelines range finding. The Court finds
the Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR") to be
credible and hereby adopts the findings therein. Having
considered the PSR, the arguments of counsel with regard to
sentencing, and the factors enumerated in § 3553(a), the
Court finds that a sentence at the top end of the Guidelines
is appropriate in this case. The government's motion for
upward variance [DE 349] is DENIED.
Court noted at length during this sentencing hearing and as
it has previously held in Andrews' co-defendants'
cases, dog fighting is a cruel enterprise. Andrews has been
involved in dog fighting for decades and his involvement
included owning, breeding, and training dogs for fighting as
well as participating in dog fights and collecting books and
promotional dog fighting materials. Sixty-four pit bull-type
dogs were seized from Andrews' property on the execution
of a search warrant on December 6, 2016, in addition to a
dog-conditioning treadmill, veterinary and medical supplies,
break sticks, and "pedigrees" demonstrating
champion and grand champion fighting status of dogs. Thirty
of the dogs seized from Andrews' property had to be
euthanized due to their inability to be safely placed in
homes. The evidence demonstrates that Andrews is completely
immersed in the dog fighting culture.
evidence at sentencing further demonstrates that Andrews is a
serious and violent drug dealer. Of particular note, the
Court heard a disturbing recording of Andrews discussing how
he used a pistol to beat a man believed to have stolen almost
a kilogram of cocaine from Andrews so severely that he looked
like the "Elephant Man." The recording, coupled
with the evidence of Andrews' long-time and active
participation in dog fighting, demonstrates a gross lack of
empathy for life. It is also clear from the evidence that
Andrews' drug dealing helped to support his dog fighting
considering the defendant's individual circumstances and
the facts of this case, the Court holds that a sentence at
the top of Andrews' Guidelines range is appropriate and
reasonable. This sentence sufficiently reflects the
seriousness of the offenses - indeed, Andrews did not object
to the imposition of the statutory maximum sentence of sixty
months on the dog fighting count - in addition to providing
for just punishment. This sentence further represents the
longest term of imprisonment imposed on the defendants in
this case, which the Court finds to appropriately reflect
both Andrews' involvement in the offenses and his nature
and characteristics. The Court has considered thoroughly the
arguments presented by Andrews in mitigation and finds that a
sentence at the top of the Guidelines range is still
warranted. The Court denies, however, the government's
motion to upwardly vary as to do so would result in
unwarranted sentencing disparities with Andrews'
co-defendants and co-conspirators. The remaining provisions
of the Court's judgment as announced at sentencing remain
 The factors set forth in §
(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense and
the history and characteristics of the defendant;
(2) the need for the sentence imposed -
(A) to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to
promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment