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United States v. Jefferson

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

July 16, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
BILLY GENE JEFFERSON, JR., Petitioner.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          John A. Gibney Jr. United States District Judge

         Billy Gene Jefferson, Jr., a federal inmate proceeding pro se, has submitted a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence in each of his criminal cases in this Court ("§ 2255 Motions"). Jefferson's § 2255 Motions and memoranda are identical and he has affixed both case numbers on all his filings. See United States v. Jefferson, No. 3:13CR221 (E.D. Va. filed Dec. 12, 2016), ECF Nos. 114-15 ("Jefferson I"); United States v. Jefferson, No. 3;I4CR66 (E.D. Va. filed Dec. 12, 2016), ECF Nos. 48-49 ("Jefferson II"). The Government has responded to Jefferson's § 2255 Motions with two identical Responses. (Jefferson I, ECF No. 121; Jefferson II, ECF No. 59.) Jefferson has replied to the Government, again with two identical filings. (Jefferson I, ECF No. 125; Jefferson II, ECF No. 67.) Therefore, in the interests of juridical efficiency, the Court consolidates Jefferson's § 2255 Motions into one single Memorandum Opinion. For the reasons set forth below, the § 2255 Motions will be DENIED.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. The Plea Agreements in Jefferson I

         On December 9, 2013, Jefferson was named in a Criminal Information charging him with major fraud against the United States and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions ("December 9, 2013 Criminal Information"). (Jefferson I, ECF No. 1, at 4-10.) On December 19, 2013, Jefferson pled guilty to the two-count Criminal Information ("December 19, 2013 Plea Agreement"). (Jefferson I, ECF No. 10, at ¶ 1; see also Jefferson I, ECF No. 49.) Under the December 19, 2013 Plea Agreement, the Government agreed to recommend that Jefferson receive a three-point reduction for acceptance of responsibility under the applicable Sentencing Guidelines, and that "[t]his recommendation will remain in effect provided [Jefferson] does not do anything inconsistent with full acceptance of responsibility prior to sentencing." (Jefferson I, ECF No. 10, at ¶ 4.) The Government further agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than 78 months. (Id.) Jefferson agreed to pay $12, 947, 886.77 in restitution.[1] (Id. at ¶ 8.) The December 19, 2013 Plea Agreement further detailed that "restitution is mandatory....." (Id.)

         "To facilitate compliance with the restitution order, the district court permitted Jefferson to remain on bond pending sentencing, with the condition that he report any money transfers over $25, 000 to the Internal Revenue Service." United States v. Jefferson, 612 Fed.Appx. 676, 677 (4th Cir.), opinion after grant of reh'g, 621 Fed.Appx. 757 (4th Cir. 2015). While on pre-sentencing release, Jefferson failed to report multiple money transfers over $100, 000, withdrew substantial amounts of cash, and made dozens of monetary transfers just under the reporting threshold. (See Jefferson I, Sept. 9, 2013 Tr. 387-88, ECF No. 87.) Further, the Government learned that prior to the filing of the December 9, 2013 Criminal Information, and while the Government was investigating his case, Jefferson withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, bought tens-of-thousands of dollars' worth of gift cards, created a false driver's license, and chartered a plane to England.[2] (See Jefferson I, Sept. 9, 2013 Tr. 81-84, 104-21.) On April 11, 2014, the Government moved to hold Jefferson in breach of the December 19, 2013 Plea Agreement. (Jefferson I, ECF No. 27.) On April 28, 2014, Jefferson filed a cross-motion to hold the Government in breach of the December 19, 2013 Plea Agreement. (Jefferson 1, ECF No. 34.) Thereafter, Jefferson and the Government entered into a Supplemental Plea Agreement wherein the parties agreed to withdraw their respective motions to hold each in breach of the December 19, 2013 Plea Agreement. (Jefferson I, ECF No. 49, at ¶ 15.) The Supplemental Plea Agreement also removed the Government's obligations to recommend that Jefferson receive a three-point reduction for acceptance of responsibility and to recommend a sentence of no more than 78 months. (Id. at ¶ 4.) The Supplemental Plea Agreement detailed that Jefferson "understands that the United States will argue at sentencing for an upward departure or variance ...." (Id.)

         B. The Plea Agreement in Jefferson II

         Due to the Government's discovery of Jefferson's additional criminal conduct before the filing of the December 9, 2013 Criminal Information and after the December 19, 2013 Plea Agreement, on May 6, 2014, a grand jury indicted Jefferson on one count of obstruction of an official proceeding (Count One), one count of unlawful transfer of a false identification document (Count Two), and one count of aggravated identity theft (Count Three). (Jefferson II, ECF No. 1, at 1-6.) On June 4, 2014, Jefferson pled guilty to Counts Two and Three of the Indictment, and the Government dismissed Count One. ("June 4, 2014 Plea Agreement"). (Jefferson II, ECF No. 15, at ¶¶ 1, 8.) However, under the June 4, 2014 Plea Agreement, Jefferson agreed that he "understands that the United States will argue at sentencing for an upward departure or variance based on the defendant's criminal conduct that formed the basis for the government's allegations referenced in, and relevant conduct associated with, Count One of the indictment." (Id. at ¶ 4.)

         C. Jefferson's Sentencing

         The Court consolidated Jefferson's two criminal cases for purposes of sentencing. See Jefferson, 621 Fed.Appx. at 759. The Court imposed an upward variance and sentenced Jefferson to a total of twenty years of imprisonment. See Id. Specifically, Jefferson received an active ten-year-sentence in Jefferson I (ECF No. 79, at 2), and an active ten-year-sentence in Jefferson II (ECF No. 36, at 2), for a total of twenty years of imprisonment. (Jefferson I, ECF No. 79, at 2; Jefferson II, ECF No. 36, at 2.) On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals of the Fourth Circuit affirmed Jefferson's sentences. Jefferson, 612 Fed.Appx. at 679.

         D. Jefferson's § 2255 Motions

         In his § 2255 Motions, Jefferson argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. (§ 2255 Mot. 4.)[3] Specifically, the Court construes Jefferson to allege:[4]

Claim One: Jefferson received the ineffective assistance of counsel when:
(a) Counsel "fail[ed] to advise Mr. Jefferson of his obligation to prioritize satisfying restitution above any discretionary expenditures" (Mem. Supp. § 2255 Mot. 19);
(b) Counsel "active[ly] and tacit[ly] approv[ed] of Mr. Jefferson's expenditures." (Id.); and,
(c) Counsel "fail[ed] to communicate the United States' expectations under the plea to Mr. Jefferson, and Mr. Jefferson's limitations (relevant to the plea) to ...

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