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United States v. Chambers

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

January 9, 2020

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
SOLOMON CHAMBERS, SR., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER OF COURT

          ARTHUR J. SCHWAB, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are several Motions filed by Defendant on the criminal and/or the civil docket. The Court has considered each of these Motions, and will address each Motion herein.

         Procedural Background

         Defendant was indicted on July 10, 2018 of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349. ECF 22. He eventually entered into a plea agreement with the United States Government, and a per his plea agreement, he pled guilty on March 12, 2019, to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349, and agreed to pay mandatory restitution in the amount of $12, 750.00. (ECF 46-1). The Court scheduled his sentencing hearing for November 13, 2019.

         During the November 13, 2019 sentencing hearing, the Court sentenced Defendant to a six-month term of imprisonment - which was a downward departure from the 8-14-month imprisonment term under the United States Sentencing Guidelines. ECF 67. Based upon Defendant's ties to the community and his lack of violent criminal history, the Court found that he was not a danger to any other person or the community, and because Defendant had been compliant with his pre-sentence bond requirements, the Court allowed Defendant to self-report to prison by no later than January 10, 2020. ECF 67, p. 2. As the time to self-report to the prison neared, Defendant began to file various documents on the dockets, to delay the implementation of his below-guideline range sentence.

         First, on November 26, 2019, Defendant filed a counseled Motion to Clarify and/or Re-Classify Sentence/Judgment. ECF 68. This Motion argued that because he spent over 30 days in a Washington County jail, [1] those days should count against the six-month federal prison sentence this Court imposed. Id. This Motion further requested that, if Defendant had to be incarcerated for six months, he be incarcerated in either Greene County or Washington County Jail so that he could participate in a work release program at one of those locations.[2] Id. This motion was filed on Defendant's behalf by the attorney who was appointed pursuant to the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act (“CJA”), 18 U.S.C. § 3006A (ECF 9) and who represented Defendant from the inception of this case through the change of plea and sentencing hearings. Id.

         The Court denied this Motion noting that “the calculation of the time any Defendant serves, lies exclusively within the province of the Bureau of Prisons and the Attorney General.” ECF 71, citing 18 U.S.C. § 3585 and United States v. Wilson, 503 U.S. 329 (1992). The Court also denied his request to be incarcerated in either the Green or Washington County Jails, noting that such a request was not made at the time sentencing, and more importantly, that the Court could not “dictate to the Bureau of Prisons where Defendant should be incarcerated.” Id., citing Davage v. United States, 1997 WL 180336, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 16, 1997) (“Section 3621(b) authorizes the Bureau ‘to designate the place of confinement for purposes of serving federal sentences of imprisonment.'”).

         After failing to prevail on the Motion to Clarify (ECF 68), on December 16, 2019, Defendant, acting pro se, filed another Motion. This pro se Motion sought the appointment of new counsel, noting that “several errors” had occurred “in [his] presentencing report, the calculation of [his] sentencing scale, and all in around ineffectiveness of representation.” ECF 72. The Court denied that Motion on December 19, 2019, because Defendant's case was closed, and no appeal was pending. ECF 73. Thus, the Court found no basis upon which the Court could appoint new counsel, but noted that the Order would not preclude Defendant from raising an ineffective assistance of counsel claim “at the appropriate time should he choose to do so.” Id.

         Next, Defendant retained counsel (which the Court finds curious in light of the fact that his prior counsel was appointed under the CJA due to his alleged inability to pay an attorney), and his newly retained counsel entered his appearance on December 31, 2019.[3] ECF 74. On that same date, December 31, 2019, Defendant's new counsel filed a Motion to Vacate Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF 75. A civil docket was opened at docket number 19-cv-01684 on December 31, 2019, after this counseled Motion to Vacate was filed. On January 2, 2020, Defendant himself filed a pro se Motion to Vacate Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. ECF 76.

         These filings prompted this Court to issue a Miller Notice on January 3, 2020. ECF 77. On that same date, Defendant's attorney filed an Emergency Motion to Stay the Execution of Sentence on the civil docket (see doc. no. at 19-cv-01684). Then, on January 6, 2020, Defendant's new attorney filed a Motion for Extension of Time, seeking additional time to file Defendant's Intent with respect to the Miller Notice on the civil docket. Doc. no. 4 at 19-cv-01684.

         On January 8, 2020 Defendant filed his Miller Notice Statement of Intention noting that he: (1) was withdrawing the pro se Motion to Vacate Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (ECF 76), and (2) intended to proceed with the counseled Motion to Vacate Sentence - subject to this Court's ruling on the Motion for Extension of Time. See doc. no. 5, at 19-cv-01684.

         Finally, the Government filed a Response to the Emergency Motion for Stay of Execution of Sentence on January 8, 2020. Doc. no. 6 at 19-cv-01684. The Court will now address all of these Motions.

         1. Defendant's Motion to Vacate Sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 - ECF 75

         The Court will begin by dismissing Defendant's remaining Motion to Vacate Sentence as ...


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