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United States v. Muhammad

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

July 19, 2019



          Robert E. Payne Senior United States District Judge.

         The matter is before the Court on the 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion (ECF No. 90) filed by Mustafa Muhammad.[1] The Government has responded. For the reasons set forth below, the § 2255 Motion will be denied.


         On April 15, 2014, a grand jury indicted Muhammad with transportation of a minor for prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2423(a). (Indictment 1, ECF No. 9.) Subsequently, a jury trial was held and Muhammad was found guilty of the charge in the Indictment. (ECF No. 40, at 1.) Muhammad's Pre-Sentence Investigation Report ("PSR") aptly summarized the evidence of his guilt as follows:

[O]n March 14, 2014, Stafford County Sheriff's Office First Sergeant Rob Grella conducted a prostitution sting operation, wherein he telephonically contacted women advertising "escort" services on the website (Backpage). Law enforcement is aware that women advertising as escorts on Backpage are frequently engaged in prostitution. First Sergeant Grella telephoned a female using the moniker "Scarlet" advertising in Fredericksburg, Virginia with an ad title of "Back for the First Time," and using telephone number 202-644-2963. The female agreed to travel to First Sergeant Grella, who was using a room at the Wingate Hotel, 20 Sanford Drive in Stafford County, Virginia.
The woman entered the hotel and agreed to engage in oral and/or vaginal intercourse with First Sergeant Grella in exchange for money. The woman was detained by First Sergeant Grella for further investigation. The woman initially provided First Sergeant Grella with false information regarding her age, but after further questioning, the female (hereinafter identified as Juvenile 1) informed First Sergeant Grella that she was a 16 year old runaway from Maryland with a date of birth of March 20, 1997. A check of police records and information from Juvenile l's family confirmed Juvenile 1 was in fact 16 years old at the time of arrest. Juvenile 1 informed First Sergeant Grella that she was in the company of three other persons and that they were all staying in a room at the Holiday Inn Express, 5422 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Fredericksburg, Virginia 22407. Mr. Muhammad was detained leaving his hotel by police in a vehicle described as a 1995 Toyota . . . registered to Mustafa Muhammad .... Also in the vehicle were Lillie Edmonds, an adult female, and Alfred Leroy Thompson, an adult male. Ms. Edmonds and Mr. Thompson were also detained pending further investigation.
Juvenile 1 was interviewed by Stafford County Sheriff's Office Detective Sean Danyluk on March 15, 2014. Juvenile 1 stated that she met Mr. Muhammad on a social media website known as Law enforcement is aware that pimps often use this website to recruit persons into prostitution. According to Juvenile 1, she met Mustafa Muhammad on or about March 13, 2014, at a hotel near Clinton, Maryland, where she prostituted on his behalf. Juvenile 1 stated that Mr. Muhammad posted advertisements on Backpage for her and used her real photographs in the ads. Juvenile 1 indicated she gave Mr. Muhammad some of the proceeds from her acts of prostitution. She stated they then traveled to Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Juvenile 1 reported that Mr. Thompson was also present at the hotel in Clinton, Maryland.
According to Juvenile 1, on March 14, 2014, Mr. Muhammad decided to leave Maryland for Virginia. Mustafa Muhammad told Juvenile 1 that they would make a lot of money in Virginia due to Juvenile l's light complexion. Prior to leaving Maryland, the three individuals (Juvenile 1, Mustafa Muhammad, and Alfred Thompson) picked up Ms. Edmonds, who was staying at a different hotel in Maryland. All persons in the car were aware they were traveling to Virginia for the purpose of Juvenile 1 and Ms. Edmonds to engage in commercial sex acts. Juvenile 1 [stated] that Mr. Muhammad again posted her on Backpage in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She stated they obtained room 520 at the Holiday Inn Express. Juvenile 1 disclosed that she travelled to the Wingate Hotel in Stafford County in the Toyota driven by Mr. Muhammad.

(PSR ¶¶ 6-9 (paragraph numbers omitted).)

         On September 17, 2014, the Court entered judgment and sentenced Muhammad to 120 months of incarceration. (J. 2, ECF No. 51.) Muhammad appealed. On May 5, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed Muhammad's conviction and sentence. United States v. Muhammad, 601 Fed.Appx. 226, 227 (4th Cir. 2015). On November 2, 2015, the United States Supreme Court denied Muhammad's petition for certiorari. Muhammad v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 425 (2015).

         On April 11, 2016, the Court received Muhammad's Motion for a New Trial. (ECF No. 74.) In the Motion for a New Trial, Muhammad made a frivolous claim that the Court and the prosecution used a false name and initials for the juvenile victim. (See id.) By Memorandum Opinion and Order entered on October 11, 2017, the Court denied Muhammad's Motion for a New Trial. (ECF Nos. 126, 127.)

         On September 26, 2016, Muhammad filed the present § 2255 Motion wherein he demands relief upon the following grounds:

Claim One The prosecution knowingly used false testimony when it allowed the juvenile victim to state her initials were J.B. (§ 2225 Mot. 2-3.)[2]
Claim Two The prosecution violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) by suppressing evidence reflecting the correct initials for the juvenile victim. (§ 2255 Mot. 4-5.)
Claim Three The prosecution violated Muhammad's rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause[3] by utilizing misinformation about the juvenile's initials and age. (Id. at 6.)
Claim Four (a) "The Court was without jurisdiction to hear the case without the proper proof of identification and a certified authentic birth certificate of the ''alleged' minor." (Id. at 8 (citation omitted).) (b) Additionally, the Court lacked jurisdiction because the matter should have been tried in the Alexandria Division. (Id.)
Claim Five Muhammad is actually innocent of the crime of which he was convicted. (Id. at 9.)
Claim Six Muhammad was denied the effective assistance of counsel because: (a) "counsel failed to investigate the true identity and age of the''alleged' minor . . . .," (id. at 10); (b) counsel failed to show Muhammad a DVD recording of an interview with the minor, (id. at 11); and, (c) counsel failed to challenge on appeal the lack of adequate evidence with respect to the juvenile victim's age, (id. 12-13).
Claim Seven The Court constructively amended the Indictment by providing a jury instruction with respect to transporting an individual across state lines for prostitution. Muhammad "was not charged or indicted on the charge of bringing anyone across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. He was charged with bringing a minor across state line for the purpose of prostitution." (Id. at 14.)
Claim Eight The Court failed to provide the jury an adequate instruction with respect to the impeachment of the ...

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