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Crump v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Gainesville Division

November 30, 2017

SAMUEL J. CRUMP, BOP Reg. # 63258-019, Movant,

          MOTION TO VACATE 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

          J. CLAY FULLER United States Magistrate Judge.


         Movant has filed a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion to vacate his sentence. (Doc. 307).

         IT IS RECOMMENDED that the motion be DENIED.

         I. Background

On December 10, 2013, a federal grand jury returned a three-count superseding indictment against Crump [Movant] and his co-defendant Ray Adams. The indictment charged Crump with conspiring [in 2011] to possess and produce the biological toxin ricin for use as a weapon in Count One and with possessing the biological toxin ricin in its naturally occurring form, castor beans, for use as a weapon in Count Two, both in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 175(a). Crump was convicted of Counts One and Two.

(Doc. 317 (Gov't Resp.) at 10 (citations omitted)). On November 14, 2014, Movant received two concurrent 120-month sentences. (Doc. 250). He appealed, raising a single issue: “whether his conviction is invalid because § 175(a) failed to provide him with fair notice that the conduct in which he engaged was prohibited.” (Doc. 283 at 2). On July 6, 2015, the Eleventh Circuit held that Movant's “conduct clearly transgressed 18 U.S.C. § 175(a). Thus, his complaint of vagueness is unavailing . . . .” (Id. at 4).

         The government provides the following factual background:

In July 2010, Joseph Sims, Jr., an inmate in the Anderson County South Carolina Jail, contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) and reported that he had information that members of the Militia of Georgia (“MOG”) were engaged in illegal activity, including training with unregistered fully automatic weapons and destructive devices. (Doc. 271 [at] 117, 232-73). In 2011, the FBI signed Sims up as an informant and he consensually digitally recorded telephone calls and meetings he had with individuals associated with the MOG, including Crump. ([Id. at] 131-32).
On September 17, 2011, Sims consensually recorded a meeting with Crump, Ray Adams, Emory Dan Roberts, and others at Adams's residence in Toccoa, Georgia. (Gov't Ex. 5-T). Sims asked Crump, “The stuff that, um, Dan [Roberts] said you can make, you still make that?” (Id. at 17). Crump replied, “Yea.” (Id.).

         The following conversation then occurred:

Crump: What I'd like to do is make, uh, about 10 pounds of that. Give you 2, me 2, Ray [Adams] 2, Dan [Roberts] 2, and somebody else 2. Put it out in different cities at the same time: Washington, DC; maybe Newark, NJ; Atlanta, GA; Jacksonville, FL; New Orleans. Dump that little (unintelligible) that's all ya gotta do is lay it in the damn road, the cars are gonna spread it.
Sims: Yea, but what's it take to make it? I haven't got a clue.
Crump: Just some seed. I got the, uh, got one more ingredient, and I'll get it today. (Unintelligible) you be here when we make it. Ray's (Adams) gonna make it.
(Id. at 17-19).

(Gov't Resp. at 3-4 (footnote omitted)).

         Crump then suggested dispersing ricin in the Atlanta area, telling Sims the following: “Ya get on the perimeter of Atlanta, you get up on the north side, ya get on 41, ya throw it out there right on 285, ya go up 41 or 75, go up 75 to get away from it. Keep the heater on, that way it keeps the pressure out. Don't roll your window down.” ([Gov't Ex. 5-T] at 23-24).

         Crump eventually called Adams over and the following conversation occurred:

Crump: What's the name of that worst poison, Ray?
Adams: Ricin.
Crump: No, the other one.
Adams: What other one?
Crump: Kills about 30 million people at one time, about a pound of it. It's caused from dead food . . . rotten food.
Adams: Oh, botulism.

(Id. at 24-25).

         On October 6, 2011, Sims consensually recorded a meeting with Crump and asked about his plans to make ricin. (Gov't Ex. 6-T). Crump told Sims, “I'll bring ya some seed, ” (referring to castor beans) and then explained that the items needed to make ricin included castor beans, acetone, lye, and a mixer. (Id. at 2). Crump also explained that when searching for or purchasing materials to make ricin, a person should buy the materials at different locations and away from where the person lives. (Id. at 2-3). Crump also warned against searching or purchasing ingredients on the Internet because it could be tracked. (Id. at 24-25). Crump made the following additional comments regarding making ricin:

• “When ya soak it [castor bean], that lye takes the hull off the seeds. Then ya take the seeds up (unintelligible). Then one ounce of seed to two maybe three ounces of acetone. All that acetone is [] your drying compound. Once you put [it] in a blender, keep blendin' it up, it's gonna come out like baby powder. But now ya gotta be careful of that shit”;
• “It's [ricin] gotta be put in a jar after it comes out of the blender. Ya can't handle that shit with your bare hands. Ya got to have gloves”;
• “There's no cure for it [ricin] once it gets into your lungs. You're gone. You can kiss it goodbye”;
• “If it [ricin] gets on your skin, it soaks into your skin, you're gone. This damn stuff is dangerous”;
• “I can get ya seed [castor beans]. I know where the seeds is at right now”;

(Id. at 2-11, 16-17). (Gov't Resp. at 5-6; see Id. at 6-7 (listing more of Movant's “comments regarding dispersing ricin”)).

         On October 15, 2011, Sims recorded a conversation in which Movant discussed the equipment needed to make ricin from castor beans and during which Adams retrieved a castor bean from storage and gave it to Movant, who gave it to Sims; and on October 26, 2011, Sims recorded a conversation in which Movant “talked about building and testing a delivery system to disperse ricin[ and] mentioned that he was having trouble finding the Red Devil lye and told Sims to get as much lye [as] he could find after Sims offered to find lye and a blender.” (Gov't Resp. at 7-8 (citing Gov't Ex. 7-T at 7-8, 10; Gov't Ex. 8-T at 7, 10-11)). Sims also recorded a conversation with Thomas and Crump on October 29, 2011, during which “Crump told Sims that he was going to ‘shell them damn seeds . . . get the seed out.' Sims asked if he could help and Crump made a gesture with his hands indicating how many seeds were at his house.” (Id. at 8 (citing Gov't Ex. 9-T at 15)).

         On November 1, 2011, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed search warrants at the residences of Crump and Adams. (Doc. 275 [at] 740, 747, 768, 788, 814). Agents seized a bag of castor beans and partially shelled castor bean shells from Crump's residence. (Doc. 267 [at] 936-37; Gov't Ex. 35). On December 1, 2011, agents executed a search warrant at a storage unit owned by Crump and seized the following property:

• White bag containing over 100 castor beans (Doc. 267 [at] 943-46; Gov't Ex. 40)
• Ricin recipe and handwritten note on dimethyl sulfoxide (Doc. 267 [at] 948-50; Gov't Ex. 38);
• Blender (Doc. 267 [at] 958-59; Gov't Ex. 39);
• Several boxes containing rubber gloves (Doc. 267 [at] 959-61; Gov't Ex. 46-48);
• Handwritten notes with addresses of FBI buildings in Georgia (Doc. 267 [at] 950-52; Gov't Ex. 41).
During the trial, the government called several expert witnesses to testify about ricin testing on castor beans. (Doc. 267). A government expert testified that ricin is a biological toxin naturally occurring in the seeds of castor plants. ([Id. at] 981-82). Experts also testified that ricin is an extremely toxic substance capable of causing death in humans ([id. at] 998-1000, 1050, 1103), and that the castor beans recovered from both Adams's and Crump's properties tested positive for biologically active ricin. ([Id. at] 986, 989, 993, 995; Gov't Exs. 16, 18, 20, 26-27, 52-56). The government experts also testified that ingesting castor beans could potentially cause death in humans. (Doc. 267 [at] 999-1000).

(Gov't Resp. at 9-10).

         II. The § 2255 Motion In his ยง 2255 motion, Movant raises the following four grounds for relief: (1) Actual Innocence; (2) Ineffective Assistance of Counsel by Trial Counsel; (3) Ineffective Assistance of Counsel on Appeal; and (4) ...

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