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Stevens v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

November 20, 2014

JAN STEVENS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LIAM O'GRADY, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Jan Stevens' Motion to Vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Dkt. No. 348). For the reasons stated herein, and for good cause shown, the motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

From June to October 2010, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ("ATF") conducted an undercover investigation involving Petitioner and other co-conspirators. In June 2010, an ATF confidential informant introduced three undercover law enforcement officers ("UCs") to Defendant Phun, who was based in Philadelphia. During the meeting, they discussed Phun's large-scale marijuana trafficking as well as a potential armed robbery of a narcotics "stash house" in Virginia. Following this initial meeting, Phun met with the UCs from June 2010 to October 2010, exchanging contraband cigarettes for marijuana.

On October 6, 2010, Phun met with the UCs in Fairfax County, Virginia to discuss the logistics of the stash house robbery. The UCs provided Phun with pictures of motels, explaining that these were the locations where one UC had previously picked up kilograms of cocaine. The UC explained that when he arrived to collect the drugs, he observed ten kilograms of cocaine and was met by three or four armed individuals. Phun then explained that he had access to ballistic vests as well as FBI raid jackets and hats, and that he and his associates could pose as law enforcement during the robbery. The UCs informed Phun that the cocaine would arrive at the stash house in three weeks.

On October 21, 2010, the UCs met with Phun, Defendant Johnson, and a third unnamed individual at a Famous Dave's restaurant in Philadelphia to discuss the upcoming robbery. The UCs explained the seriousness of the robbery and questioned the Defendants' desire to conduct it. Defendants agreed that they wished to go through with it. Johnson confirmed that the crew would bring their own firearms for the task. At the end of the meeting, the UCs informed Defendants that the cocaine would arrive in Virginia the following Thursday. Defendants agreed that they would travel to Virginia on Wednesday and conduct the robbery on Thursday.

On October 28, 2010, the remaining Defendants, including Petitioner, arrived in Virginia to conduct the robbery. Defendant Un contacted the UCs and arranged to meet at a gas station in Fairfax County, Virginia. Around 11 am, the UC arrived at the gas station where Defendants were parked in a white Suburban. Un and Johnson approached the UC where they shook hands. The UC then advised the Defendants to follow him to a storage facility where the rental car to be used for the robbery was located.

After following the UCs to a storage facility, Defendants Un, Johnson, and Min indicated that they were ready to do the job, and stated that the firearms were in the white Suburban. After more discussion, the UC suggested that they transfer the firearms from the Suburban to the rental. Un then walked to the Suburban and engaged in conversation with Defendant McCalister and Petitioner. Ten minutes later, McCalister and Petitioner exited the car and walked towards the storage unit, concealing firearms under their clothes and in their pockets. They then placed the guns in a compartment inside the rental car. Petitioner and McCalister then joined the rest of the group in the storage unit. The UC asked McCalister and Petitioner whether they were ready, and they confirmed they were. At this time, the UC pretended to receive a call from a drug organization member and advised the group that it was time to start the robbery. Law enforcement then moved in and arrested Petitioner and the other defendants.

On November 23, 2010, a federal Grand Jury charged Petitioner in a three-count indictment with conspiring to affect commerce by robbery, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and conspiring to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. Dkt. No. 22. A Grand Jury later charged him in a three-count superseding indictment for the same offenses. Dkt. No. 35.

During trial, the government filed an anticipatory motion to preclude all Defendants except Phun from using the affirmative defense of entrapment. Dkt. No. 60. The Court denied this motion without prejudice. Dkt. No. 107. All Defendants subsequently filed notices of an entrapment defense, to which the government responded with a notice of intent to introduce evidence of uncharged conduct if Defendants used the defense. Dkt. No. 110. In its March 10, 2011 Order, the Court stated that it would allow Defendants to raise the entrapment defense but would permit the government to introduce admissible evidence of prior criminal history if Defendants decided to do so. Dkt. No. 143. As a result, Defendants did not raise the defense.

The jury trial commenced on March 14, 2011. On March 18, 2011, the jury convicted Petitioner of counts one and two, but acquitted him of count three. Dkt. No. 164. On July 1, 2011, the Court entered judgment against Petitioner and sentenced him to 360 months imprisonment with credit for time served. Dkt. No. 234.

On March 22, 2012, Petitioner filed an appeal to the Fourth Circuit, which affirmed his conviction. Dkt. Nos. 241 & 319. On May 16, 2014, Petitioner filed the motion to vacate currently before the Court. Dkt. No. 348.

ANALYSIS

Petitioner seeks to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. A petitioner is entitled to relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 only in the extraordinary event that he demonstrates either: (1) a lack of jurisdiction by the convicting court; (2) constitutional error; or (3) legal error so grave as to be "a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice." United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). It is well settled that bare, conclusory allegations are insufficient to entitle a ...


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