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United States v. Coureton

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

September 24, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
CODY D. COURETON

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROBERT E. PAYNE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Cody D. Coureton, a federal inmate proceeding with counsel, filed this 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion ("§ 2255 Motion, " ECF No. 32) arguing that his firearm conviction is invalid under Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). The Government initially filed a Motion to Dismiss the § 2255 Motion contending that it is barred by the relevant statute of limitations. (ECF No. 35.) Thereafter, the Court ordered further briefing. In its most recent Supplemental Memorandum, the Government now argues that Coureton's claim lacks merit. (ECF No. 43, at 2-5.) For the reasons set out below, the § 2255 Motion will be granted.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On September 16, 2008, Coureton was charged in a two-count Indictment. (ECF No. 9.) Count One charged Coureton with interference with commerce by threats and violence and aiding and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) and (2) ("Hobbs Act robbery"). (Id. at 1-2.) Count Two charged Coureton with using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm and aiding and abetting that offense, during and in relation to a crime of violence, to wit, the Hobbs Act robbery charged in Count One, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (1) (A) (ii) and 2. (Id at 2.)

         On November 3, 2008, pursuant to a Plea Agreement, Coureton pled guilty to both Counts One and Two. (ECF No. 13, at 1.) However, the Plea Agreement erroneously indicated that Count One was conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery. (Id.) The language of the Plea Agreement stated as follows:

The defendant agrees to plead guilty to Counts One and Two of the criminal indictment. Count One charges the defendant with Conspiracy to Interfere with Commerce by Threats and Violence, and Aiding and Abetting that crime .... Count Two charges the defendant with Use, Carry and Brandishing Firearms and Aiding and Abetting in that crime During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence.

(ECF No. 13, at 1 (emphasis added).) Notably, the Indictment did not charge Coureton with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery. Rather, it charged Coureton solely with substantive Hobbs Act robbery and aiding and abetting that offense. (ECF No. 9, at 1.) The Statement of Facts in support of the Plea Agreement reflected that: "On or about June 21, 2008, CODY D. COURETON did interfere with commerce by threats and violence, and did aid and abet the crime, and he did use, carry, and brandish, and aided and abetted others in using, carrying and brandishing firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence." (ECF No. 14, at 1.) The Statement of Facts also indicated that "CODY D. COURETON, along with others, did commit the acts set forth in Counts One and Two of the pending criminal indictment." (Id. at 3.)

         During the Rule 11 plea hearing, the following colloquy exchanges took place:

THE COURT: Have you received a copy of the indictment this is the formal charge, read it to yourself, and discussed it with Ms. Vidal, your attorney?
MR. COURETON: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Do you understand that in Count 1 you are charged with knowingly conspiring, that is, knowingly agreeing with others to interfere with interstate commerce by threats and violence, and aiding and abetting others in that crime, that is, robbery of a facility that was involved in interstate commerce; you understand that's the charge?
MR. COURETON: Yes, sir.

(ECF No. 46, at 7-8 (emphasis added).)

The COURT: Now, in Count 2, you understand that charges you with the use, carrying and brandishing of a firearm during the commission of those acts, and aiding and abetting, the offense as charged in Count 1, all constituting a crime of violence; you understand that is the charge"
Mr. COURETON: Yes, sir.

(Id. at 9-10.) On February 9, 2009, the Court sentenced Coureton to 180 months on Count One and 84 months on Count Three, to be served consecutively. (ECF No. 22, at 2.) The Judgment reflects that Coureton was convicted of "Conspiracy to Interfere With Commerce By Threats and ...


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