United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Glen E. Conrad United States District Judge.
David Taylor, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, moved to
partially vacate, set aside, and correct his sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The government filed a
motion to dismiss, and Taylor responded. As the court
concludes that Taylor's claims lack merit, the
government's motion to dismiss will be granted.
convicted Taylor for robbing two marijuana dealers on August
27 and October 21, 2009. Both the United States Court of
Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the United States Supreme
Court affirmed Taylor's convictions. See
United States v. Taylor, 754 F.3d 217 (4th Cir.
2014), aff'd ___ U.S.___, 136 S.Ct. 2074
(2016). As summarized in the Fourth Circuit's
opinion, Taylor participated in these two armed robberies as
a member of a Roanoke-based gang, the "Southwest
Goonz." The Goonz targeted drug dealers as they were
more likely to possess large amounts of cash and drugs in
their homes and less likely to report robberies to the
the August robbery, Taylor and three other Goonz gang members
broke into the home of Josh Whorley and his girlfriend,
Latasha Graham. After "Taylor hit Graham in the head
with his pistol, groped her, and clawed the rings off her
fingers, " the Goonz only "made off with
Graham's jewelry, $40 from her purse, two cell phones,
and a marijuana cigarette." Id. at 220.
months later, in October 2009, Taylor and two other Goonz
members robbed the home of another marijuana dealer, William
Lynch, who lived with his wife and their three children.
"Taylor initiated the robbery by knocking on the front
door" and entering the home first. Id. at
220-21. "Once inside, Taylor held Lynch and his
six-year-old son at gunpoint in the living room, while
another robber forced Lynch's nine-year-old daughter from
her bedroom into the living room." Id. at 221.
The third robber "dragged [Lynch's wife] into the
living room by her hair." Id. Taylor and the
Goonz eventually departed after only stealing a cell phone.
26, 2012, a grand jury indicted Taylor on four counts.
See Superseding Indictment, Docket No. 22. Counts
Two and Four charged Taylor with violating 18 U.S.C. §
924(c), which imposes a mandatory consecutive sentence for
using or carrying a firearm in relation to a "crime of
violence." Counts One and Three, which accused Taylor of
violating the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), served as
the requisite underlying "crime of violence" for
Counts Two and Four, respectively.
pled not guilty to all four counts. After the first trial
resulted in a hung jury, a second trial was held on January
23-25, 2013. As a result of the second trial, a jury
convicted Taylor of Counts One, Three, and Four. See
Special Verdict Form, Docket No. 119. This court sentenced
Taylor to a term of incarceration of 336 months. See
Sentencing, Docket No. 134.
the Fourth Circuit and United States Supreme Court rejected
Taylor's challenges to Counts One and Three, Taylor now
disputes Count Four pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Taylor
filed his § 2255 motion with this court on February 13,
2017. Since the United States Supreme Court affirmed
Taylor's convictions on June 20, 2016, Taylor's
subsequent § 2255 motion was timely filed. See
28 U.S.C. § 2255(f)(1). Accordingly, this matter is ripe
reasons that follow, the court will dismiss Taylor's
§ 2255 motion and affirm his Count Four conviction as
Taylor violated § 924(c) by using a firearm during a
state a viable claim for relief under § 2255, a movant
must show that his sentence is "subject to collateral
attack" or was imposed either without proper
jurisdiction; "in violation of the Constitution or laws
of the United States"; or in excess of "the maximum
authorized by law." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). The movant
bears the burden of proving grounds for a collateral attack
by a preponderance of the evidence. Miller v. United
States, 261 F.2d 546, 547 (4th Cir. 1958).
sustain a conviction under § 924(c), the government must
prove that the defendant used or carried a firearm during and
in relation to an underlying "crime of violence."
See United States v. Fuertes, 805 F.3d 485,
497 (4th Cir. 2015). Here, Taylor was convicted under §
924(c) for violating the Hobbs Act. The Hobbs Act allows for
the fining and imprisonment of anyone who affects or
obstructs commerce "by robbery or extortion or attempts
or conspires so to do, or [who] commits or threatens physical
violence to any person or property in furtherance of a plan
or purpose" to do so. 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). In other
words, an individual can be convicted under the Hobbs Act for
"robbery, " as defined under § 1951(b)(1);
"extortion, " as defined under § 1951(b)(2);
and/or "attempt" or "conspiracy" to
commit robbery or extortion.
current matter, Taylor asserts that he was convicted of
conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, which he claims is
not a "crime of violence" under § 924(c).
Although the Fourth Circuit has addressed a few similar
issues,  there appears to be no
binding precedent regarding whether
conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery qualifies as
a "crime of violence" to sustain a § 924(c)
conviction. However, it is unnecessary to decide this first
impression issue as the record clearly reflects that Taylor
was convicted of the substantive offense of Hobbs Act robbery
rather than the related offense of conspiracy to commit Hobbs
Taylor's § 2255 motion requires the court to (1)
clarify the nature of Taylor's Hobbs Act convictions
(Counts One and Three); and (2) assess whether Taylor's
Hobbs Act violation constitutes a "crime of