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United States v. Ernest Beasley

August 5, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jones, II, J.


Ernest Beasley, currently incarcerated at the Hazelton federal penitentiary in Bruceton Mills, West Virginia, has filed a Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct his sentence (Dkt. No. 123). In response, the Government has filed a Motion to Dismiss Mr. Beasley's § 2255 motion (Dkt. No. 126). For the reasons that follow, I will grant the Government's motion, and deny and dismiss Mr. Beasley's motion.


On December 13, 2007, Mr. Beasley was charged by complaint and warrant with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute five or more grams of cocaine ("crack"), in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (Dkt. No. 1). At that time, Mr. Beasley declined an opportunity to cooperate against his alleged co-conspirators, who had not yet been charged. On January 8, 2008, a grand jury returned an indictment charging those co-conspirators and Mr. Beasley with six drug trafficking counts.*fn1 The co-defendants then pled guilty. One of the co-defendants pled guilty pursuant to a cooperation agreement in which he agreed to testify against any co-conspirator who chose to go to trial.

In anticipation of trial, Mr. Beasley's counsel requested an investigation of keys seized from Mr. Beasley when he was arrested. The Government reported on its investigation by letter dated April 15, 2008 as follows:

Your client has claimed that the keys the police seized from him are not keys to [the] house that was used to stash the crack cocaine Beasley was selling. The police seized three keys from Beasley. We have tried these keys in the front door of [the] house, 2417 Oakdale Street. Two of the keys work the entry or door-handle lock of the front door. The third key appears to work a deadbolt lock but does not work the deadbolt lock presently installed in [the] door. In short, as stated in the police paperwork and alleged in the indictment, when arrested Beasley had in his possession keys to 2417 Oakdale Street.

(Dkt. No. 126 at 4 (internal citation omitted)). In this letter, the Government renewed its offer of a proffer meeting with Mr. Beasley and his counsel, raising the possibility of Mr. Beasley's cooperation with law enforcement. Mr. Beasley declined this offer and chose to proceed to trial.

On July 9, 2008, following a two-day trial before the Honorable James T. Giles of this District Court, a jury convicted Mr. Beasley of all six counts of the indictment. In anticipation of sentencing, the United States Probation Office prepared a presentence investigation report (PSR), in which it determined Mr. Beasley's advisory Guidelines range to be 262-327 months, calculated as follows. Pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1(c)(6) (greater than 35 but less than 50 grams of crack, the base offense level for these drug trafficking violations was 28 (PSR ¶ 18). Given his two prior simple assault convictions and the nature of the instant drug trafficking offenses, Mr. Beasley was classified as a career offender, and his enhanced, total offense level was 34 (PSR ¶¶ 24 and 26). Mr. Beasley was in criminal history category VI, established by 15 criminal history points--three points for each of his convictions (PSR ¶¶ 29-40). See U.S.S.G. §4B1.1(b).

Mr. Beasley's counsel objected to his classification as a career offender based on simple assault convictions. Under then-applicable Third Circuit precedent, however, this classification was correct (PSR, Addendum at 16, citing United States v. Dorsey, 174 F.3d 331 (3d Cir. 1999).*fn2 In its sentencing memorandum and at sentencing, the Government endorsed the PSR's Guidelines calculation and argued for a sentencing within the Guidelines range, arguing, in part, as follows:

From the ages of 18 to 26 years, principally by his crack cocaine trafficking, defendant Ernest Beasley accumulated 15 criminal history points and "attained" the status of Career Offender. This career of crime might have been cut short had Beasley been sentenced appropriately for his first conviction for having participated in an armed assault in which the victim was shot in the arm and chest. Instead, only two years after this heinous crime, Beasley pled guilty to simple assault for repeatedly punching his girlfriend in the face, and he was again sentenced to a short term in prison. From March through May 2007, Beasley committed four crack cocaine trafficking offenses in a drug-infested Philadelphia neighborhood. Beasley committed three of these serious drug felonies while released on bail on crack cocaine trafficking charges. He awaits sentencing by this Court for his conviction by a jury of participating in a crack cocaine trafficking conspiracy during this period. The guideline range of 262 to 327 months imprisonment provides a reasonable sentence given Beasley's incorrigible criminal conduct. The government recommends a sentence of incarceration within the bottom portion of the advisory guideline range. (Dkt. No. 126 at 6 (internal citation omitted)).

At the October 2, 2008 sentencing hearing, defense counsel raised its objection to Mr. Beasley's career offender classification again, arguing that the Guidelines range resulted in an unreasonable sentenced when analyzed under 18 U.S.C. § 3553, and requested a downward variance from the Guidelines range. The Court overruled Mr. Beasley's objection to the PSR's Guidelines calculation, but granted a downward variance, and sentenced Mr. Beasley to 216 months imprisonment, 8 years supervised release, a $2,000 fine, and a $600 special assessment. Mr. Beasley did not file a direct appeal from the judgment of sentence.

On April 29, 2011, the Court docketed Mr. Beasley's § 2255 motion. In his motion, Mr. Beasley claims that his trial counsel was ineffective: (1) in disregarding Mr. Beasley's instruction to file a direct appeal; (2) in failing to investigate the keys referred to above; (3) in his trial advocacy in ways Mr. Beasley does not specify; (4) in failing to supply Mr. Beasley with transcripts of trial and sentencing; and (5) in failing to object to Mr. Beasley's career offender status and criminal history calculation as found in the PSR and by the Court at sentencing.


As Mr. Beasley did not appeal his conviction and sentence, his conviction became final on October 13, 2008, the tenth day following the October 2, 2008 sentencing.*fn3 Section 2255's one-year limitations period expired on October 13, 2009. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 2255(f)(1). Accordingly, Mr. Beasley's Section 2255 motion, which was filed ...

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