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Saylors v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division

May 23, 2019

SAUL EDWARD SAYLORS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          BRIAN K. EPPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Petitioner, an inmate at FCI Williamsburg in Salters, South Carolina, has filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. For the reasons set forth below, the Court REPORTS and RECOMMENDS the § 2255 motion be DENIED without an evidentiary hearing, this civil action be CLOSED, and a final judgment be ENTERED in favor of Respondent.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Indictment

         On July 6, 2016, the grand jury in the Southern District of Georgia charged Petitioner in a seven count indictment with (1) one count of conspiracy to commit robbery of a commercial business under 18 U.S.C. § 1951; (2) one count of conspiracy to use and carry a firearm during crimes of violence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(o); (3) two counts of robbery of a commercial business under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951 and 1952; (4) two counts of carrying, using, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence under 18 U.S.C. § 924 (c)(1)(A)(ii) and (c)2; and (5) one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922 (g)(1) and 924. United States v. Saylors, CR 116-048, doc. no. 1 (S.D. Ga. July 6, 2016) (hereinafter “CR 116-048”). The Court appointed attorney Grant K. Usry to represent Petitioner. See id., doc. no. 11.

         B. Agreement to Plead Guilty

         On February 13, 2017, Petitioner appeared with counsel before Chief United States District Judge J. Randal Hall and pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery of a commercial business (“Count One”), one count of robbery of a commercial business (“Count Three”), and one count of carrying, using, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence (“Count Four”). Id., doc. nos. 50-51. In exchange for the guilty plea, the government agreed to (1) dismiss the remaining counts of the indictment; (2) not object to a recommendation from the probation office for a two-point acceptance of responsibility reduction; and (3) consider filing a motion, based on any “substantial assistance” provided by Petitioner, for downward departure under U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1 or requesting a reduction of Petitioner's sentence under Fed. R. Crim. P. 35. Id., doc. no. 51, pp. 7-8. The plea agreement contained a factual basis for the plea, which stated in relevant part:

[As to Count One, Petitioner] did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree with ROBBIE LEE MOUZON to knowingly and unlawfully take and obtain personal property from the person and presence of employees of commercial businesses against their will by means of actual and threatened force, violence, and fear of injury to their person . . . in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951.
[As to Count Three, Petitioner], aided and abetted by ROBBIE LEE MOUZON, did unlawfully obstruct, delay, and affect, and attempt to obstruct, delay and affect commerce, as that term is defined in Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951, and the movement of articles and commodities in such commerce, by robbery, . . . in that [Petitioner] did knowingly, willfully, and unlawfully take and obtain personal property, that is, United States currency, from the presence and person of an individual . . ., against her will, and by means of actual and threatened force, violence, and fear of injury, immediate or future, to [the individual's] person, and to property in [the individual's] custody and possession, that is, by brandishing a firearm and demanding money, said United States Currency then being in the property of Speedee Cash, . . . a business engaged in and affecting interstate commerce, all done in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951 and 2.
[As to Count Four, Petitioner] aided and abetted ROBBIE LEE MOUZON to knowingly carry, use, and brandish a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, that is, robbery of a commercial business . . . as set forth in Count Three of the Indictment filed in the above-styled case; and done with the advanced knowledge that ROBBIE LEE MOUZON would carry, use, and brandish a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence that is, robbery of a commercial business, . . . in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Sections 924(c)(1)(A)(ii) and 2.

Id. at 2-5.

         The plea agreement also contained an appeal and collateral attack waiver, as follows:

Defendant entirely waives his right to a direct appeal of his conviction and sentence on any ground. The only exceptions are that the Defendant may file a direct appeal of his sentence if (1) the court enters a sentence above the statutory maximum, (2) the court enters a sentence above the advisory Sentencing Guidelines range found to apply by the court at sentencing; or (3) the Government appeals the sentence. Absent those exceptions, Defendant explicitly and irrevocably instructs his attorney not to file an appeal.
Defendant entirely waives his right to collaterally attack his conviction and sentence on any ground and by any method, including but not limited to a 28 U.S.C. § 2255 motion. The only exception is that Defendant may collaterally attack his conviction and sentence based on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Id. at 11.

         Petitioner attested he read and carefully reviewed the plea agreement, understood what it said and meant, voluntarily agreed to it, and stipulated to the factual basis therein as true and accurate in every respect. Id. at 13.

         C. Change of Plea Hearing

         During the Change of Plea Hearing, Chief United States District Judge J. Randal Hall established Petitioner's competence to enter a guilty plea if he desired. Id., doc. no. 129, pp. 4-7, 25. Petitioner testified under oath he had adequate time to discuss his case with Mr. Usry and was entirely satisfied with the services rendered by him. Id. at 8-9. Judge Hall read each count of the indictment and asked if Petitioner understood the charges. Id. at 7-8. Petitioner confirmed he understood. Id. at 8. Judge Hall also explained the rights Petitioner would be waiving by pleading guilty, and Petitioner affirmed he clearly understood those rights. Id. at 9-11.

         Among the rights explained, Judge Hall reviewed the right to trial by jury, the presumption of innocence, the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to present and cross-examine witnesses, and the right to remain silent. Id. Petitioner affirmed no one had forced, threatened, or pressured him to plead guilty, nor ...


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