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Evidence supported amount, quality of meth

Testimony from the defendant’s former roommate, and well as evidence from coconspirators, supported the conclusion in the presentence report that the defendant’s methamphetamine-related conduct involved more than 4.5 kilograms of Ice methamphetamine.


James Skyler Sebastian pleaded guilty without a plea agreement to an indictment charging him with methamphetamine related crimes. The presentence investigation report, or PSR, recommends that Sebastian be attributed a drug weight of methamphetamine of at least 30.3076 kilograms. In addition, the PSR assumes that the methamphetamine was “Ice,” that is, having a purity of at least 80%. The guidelines establish a 10:1 ratio in their treatment of methamphetamine mixture and Ice methamphetamine. The PSR recommends for Sebastian a base offense level of 38, which would be the appropriate level for an offense involving more than 4.5 kilograms of Ice methamphetamine.

Sebastian objects both to the quantity of methamphetamine attributed to him and to the characterization of this methamphetamine as Ice. On Feb. 14, 2020, an evidentiary hearing was held on these objections and the issues taken under advisement. This opinion resolves the objections.


The government called Amy Mann, an inmate convicted in another federal case, who had lived with Sebastian. She testified that from January until March 2017, he sold, “rough estimate, yeah, 1 ounce a week, every couple days.” From April until his arrest, it was 1 pound a week, approximately. As the government points out, accepting Mann’s testimony at the hearing about the quantity of methamphetamine obtained by the defendant comes very close to the amount attributed to him by the PSR.

Of course, there are reasons to question the details of Mann’s testimony. Mann has given different versions of Sebastian’s drug dealing – an initial one to law enforcement, which she repudiated because she was under the influence of drugs; the one she told the defendant’s private investigator before the hearing, in which she attributed a smaller quantity of methamphetamine to Sebastian and finally her testimony under oath at the hearing.

In addition, she testified that until a week before the hearing, she had expected that she might receive a sentence reduction for her testimony for the government, which obviously would have given her a motive to lie. On the other hand, she made clear that her testimony as to times and quantities of drugs were “rough estimate[s]” and that a drug dealer’s routine is “not going to be an exact science.” That obviously means, as one might expect, that in a chaotic world of drug dealing, there is unlikely to be a regular sale of drugs by quantity.

Considering the evidence as a whole, the court finds that the government has met its burden of proving that the PSR’s recommended base offense level is correct. While the court recognizes the defects in Mann’s credibility, it is clear that she did have a drug relationship with Sebastian that not only allowed her to view his own drug dealing, but gave him knowledge of her dealing with other members of the conspiracy. Similarly, the PSR’s description of the drug distributions by other defendants involved with Sebastian, which have not been credibly disputed, support the attribution of the guideline quantity proposed for the defendant. Based upon the court’s factual findings, it determines that the evidence from the hearing and the PSR supports a reasonable estimate of not less than 6.333 kilograms.


The government notes that the methamphetamine seized from Sebastian’s residence when he was arrested was analyzed as Ice. Sebastian does not dispute that analysis, but explains simply, “[towards the end I got some really good dope. But 80% of this, the investigation that I was involved with, no, I don’t think it was ever ice.” But he also testified that the quantity of methamphetamine he obtained increased as time went on.

Moreover, the government introduced reports of analysis of methamphetamine purchased from coconspirator Sean Maidlow, which had a purity of 95%. Maidlow supplied drugs to Donald Snyder, who in turn supplied Sebastian. The court finds there is adequate evidence to apply the Ice guideline to Sebastian.

Defendant’s objections to PSR overruled.

United States v. Sebastian, Case No. 1:18-cr-00025-013, Jan. 19, 2021. WDVA at Abingdon (Jones). VLW 021-3-023. 14 pp.

VLW 021-3-023