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United States v. Wilson

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 26, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JEROME WILSON

          MEMORANDUM

          ANITA B. BRODY, J.

         Currently before me is Jerome Wilson's pro se Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence. For the reasons set forth below, I will deny Wilson's § 2255 motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On February 10, 2015, a grand jury in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania returned an indictment charging Wilson with two counts of bank robbery under 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a), and one count of attempted bank robbery under 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). During each crime, Wilson entered a bank in the Philadelphia region, and handed the teller a note demanding cash. One of the notes read: "This is a hold up, enty draws [sic] now or else!!" While the tellers at two of the banks gave Wilson money, the teller at the third bank refused, and Wilson left without receiving cash. On May 20, 2015, Wilson pleaded guilty before me to all three counts charged in the indictment.

         The presentence report ("PSR") recommended that Wilson be classified as a career offender because § 2113(a) was a "crime of violence" under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and Wilson had two prior convictions under that statute. It also recommended that Wilson receive a "threat of death" enhancement. Application of the career-offender enhancement increased Wilson's criminal history category from IV to VI and his total offense level from 27 to 32. Because the PSR also recommended that Wilson receive a 3-level downward adjustment of his offense level for acceptance of responsibility, his total recommended offense level was 29. The resulting Federal Sentencing Guidelines range was 151 to 188 months.

         Wilson objected to being classified as a career offender, arguing that § 2113(a) was not a "crime of violence." After supplemental briefing on the issue, this Court determined that § 2113(a) was a "crime of violence" under the Guidelines because a conviction under § 2113(a) requires the "use, attempted use, or threatened use of force." See ECF No. 36.

         This Court also applied the threat-of-death enhancement. However, this did not increase the total offense level beyond 29-the offense level resulting from the career-offender enhancement. Accordingly, this Court adopted the PSR and determined the Guidelines range to be 151 to 188 months. On August 16, 2016, this Court sentenced Wilson to 151 months' imprisonment, three years of supervised release, restitution of $3, 122, and a special assessment of $300.

         Wilson appealed his sentence. On appeal, Wilson challenged this Court's application of both the career-offender enhancement and the threat-of-death enhancement. On November 7, 2017, the Third Circuit rejected both of Wilson's arguments and affirmed this Court's sentencing order. The Third Circuit held that "bank robbery by intimidation, as set forth in § 2113(a), categorically qualifies as a crime of violence" under the Guidelines. United States v. Wilson, 880 F.3d 80, 88 (2018). Therefore, "the District Court was correct to apply the career -offender enhancement." Id. Additionally, the Third Circuit held that application of the threat-of-death enhancement was not plain error[1]because "the threat-of-death enhancement did not affect [Wilson's] sentence." This was because "the District Court correctly applied the career-offender enhancement, and the threat-of-death enhancement did not increase Wilson's sentence beyond the sentence mandated by the career-offender enhancement." Id.

         On October 25, 2018, Wilson filed his Pro Se Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Section 2255 empowers a court to "vacate, set aside or correct" a sentence that "was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). "A section 2255 petition is not a substitute for an appeal, nor may it be used to relitigate matters decided adversely on appeal." Gov't of Virgin Islands v. Nicholas, 759 F.2d 1073, 1074-75 (3d Cir. 1985) (citation omitted). If a party is entitled to relief under § 2255(a), "the court shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate." Id. § 2255(b). A petitioner is entitled to an evidentiary hearing unless the motion, files, and records of the case show conclusively that the petitioner is not entitled to relief.[2] Id.

         III. DISCUSSION

         Wilson contends he is entitled to relief because his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel.

         In Strickland v. Washington,466 U.S. 668 (1984), the Supreme Court established the legal framework for determining Sixth Amendment claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. Strickland sets forth a ...


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