United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
E. Payne Senior United States District Judge.
Maurice Burks, a federal inmate proceeding pro se,
submitted this motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate,
set aside, or correct his sentence ("§ 2255 Motion,
" ECF No. 55) . Burks contends that his Plea Agreement is
void and unenforceable, and that he experienced ineffective
assistance of counsel in conjunction with his guilty plea.
Specifically, Burks demands relief because:
Claim One: "Burks's plea agreement is void and
unenforceable because it lacked consideration."
(Gov't's Resp. 3, ECF No. 58 (citation
Claim Two: "Burks did not engage in some of the actions
outlined in his sworn statement of facts." (Id.
Claim Three: "Burks's counsel was ineffective
because the conduct in the statement of the facts does not
constitute a crime." (Id. (citation omitted).)
Claim Four: "Burks's appellate counsel was
ineffective for failing to raise certain issues on direct
appeal." (Id. (citation omitted).)
Government responded, asserting that Burks's claims lack
merit. (ECF No. 58.) Burks has filed a Reply. (ECF No. 59.)
For the reasons set forth below, Burks's § 2255
Motion (ECF No. 55) will be denied.
August 20, 2013, a grand jury charged Burks, in a one-count
Indictment, with mail fraud. (Indictment 1, ECF No. 1.) On
November 20, 2013, the Government filed a one-count
Information against Burks, again charging him with mail
fraud. (Information 1, ECF No. 15.) On November 26, 2013,
Burks appeared before the United States Magistrate Judge and
pled guilty to the one-count Information. (Plea Agreement
¶ 1, ECF No. 19.)
Statement of Facts supporting his Plea Agreement, Burks
agreed that "the following facts are true and correct,
and that had this matter proceeded to trial, the United
States would have proven each of them beyond a reasonable
1. From in or around January 2012 through in or around
October 2012, within the Eastern District of Virginia and
elsewhere, the defendant, STEPHEN MAURICE BURKS, for the
purposes of executing the scheme and artifice and to obtain
money and property by means of material false and fraudulent
pretenses, representations, and promises, did knowingly place
and cause to be placed in any post office and authorized
depository for mail matter, any matter and thing whatever to
be sent and delivered by the Postal Service, specifically on
or about March 5, 2012, did cause to be mailed a package-from
investor D.S. in Oceanport, New Jersey, to be delivered via
U.S. Mail to STEPHEN MAURICE BURKS at Chelsea Financial Group
in Richmond, Virginia-containing a $50, 000 investment check,
in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341.
2. At all times relevant to Count One, Defendant STEPHEN
MAURICE BURKS was an individual with addresses in Maryland
and Richmond, Virginia.
3. At all times relevant to Count One, BURKS was the Chief
Executive Officer of Chelsea Financial Group, LLC
("CFG"), which operated from locations in Maryland
and Richmond, Virginia.
and Artifice to Defraud
4. From in or around January 2008 through in or around
January 2013, within the Eastern District of Virginia and
elsewhere, the defendant, STEPHEN MAURICE BURKS, did
willfully and knowingly devise and intend to devise a scheme
and artifice to defraud and for obtaining money and property,
specifically by means of misleading investors about his
personal background and his use of investor funds in order to
obtain investor funds so that BURKS could profit personally.
and Means of the Scheme
5. Starting at least as early as January 2008 and continuing
through January 2013, BURKS both individually and through CFG
offered and sold investments in several different investment
schemes. These schemes included, but were not limited to:
Forex (foreign currency exchange) trading; stock market
investments; oil investments; payday lending franchises; and
About BURKS's Background
6. Throughout all of the different investment schemes, BURKS
made material misrepresentations and omissions to investors
about his background. Specifically, BURKS claimed to be an
investment professional and/or a registered investment
advisor when, in truth and fact, he knew that he was not.
7. BURKS also claimed to have extensive experience and an
established history of success in these various investments
when, in truth and fact, he knew that he did not.
8. BURKS also claimed to be a CTA, or Certified Tax
Accountant, when in truth and fact, he knew ...