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Isa v. United States

February 2, 2009

TARIQ ISA, PETITIONER,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Petitioner Tariq Isa's motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the following reasons, the Court denies Isa's Section 2255 motion.

BACKGROUND

On May 11, 2004, Isa was charged in a two-count indictment for violations of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846 and 841(c)(2) for conspiring to knowingly and intentionally possess and distribute, and attempting to possess and distribute approximately 1,728,000 tablets of pseudoephedrine, knowing and having reasonable cause to believe the pseudoephedrine would be used to manufacture a controlled substance, namely, mixtures containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine. On September 7, 2004, a grand jury returned a superseding indictment that included the pseudoephedrine-related counts, as well as a third count -- being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). In January 2005, the Court granted Isa's motion to sever the firearm count.

On September 5, 2005, Isa entered a blind plea of guilty to the first two counts of the superseding indictment. Isa agreed with the government's factual basis for his guilty plea, but reserved the right to contest the number of tablets involved in the offenses. More specifically, at the change of plea hearing, Isa stated that he had sufficient time to discuss his plea with his attorneys and was satisfied with their representation. (R. 15-1, Gov't Resp., Ex. A, Change of Plea Tr. at 2-3, 7-9.) The Court advised Isa in detail of the rights he was waiving by pleading guilty and Isa indicated that he understood that he was waiving these rights. Isa further told the Court that he was voluntarily pleading guilty. (Id. at 9-35.) Moreover, at the change of plea hearing, the Court explained that it would sentence Isa pursuant to the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and that it was up to the Court to determine the appropriate sentence for Isa. (Id. at 19-23.) The government then gave its preliminary guidelines calculations. (Id. at 19-20.) Thereafter, the government gave its factual basis for Isa's guilty plea:

With respect to Count 1, the government would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that beginning on or about May 10th, 2002, through on or about May 21st, 2002, at Cicero, in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, and elsewhere, the defendant Tariq Isa conspired with individuals known as A and B in the second superseding indictment -- they're Hafez Hussein and Abe Nassar, also known as Nassar Abdelrahman -- and with others known and unknown to the grand jury, knowingly and intentionally to possess and distribute a listed chemical; namely, approximately 1,728,000 tablets of pseudoephedrine, a List I chemical, knowing and having reasonable cause to believe that the pseudoephedrine would be used to manufacture a controlled substance; namely, mixtures containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a Schedule II narcotic controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(c)(2).

The government would also prove that it was part of the conspiracy that Hafez Hussein and others approached defendant Tariq Isa to arrange for the purchase of approximately 200 cases of pseudoephedrine.

Defendant Tariq Isa met with Abe Nassar, also known as Nassar Abdelrahman, to arrange for the sale of 200 cases of pseudoephedrine at an arranged price.

The government would also prove that it was further part of the conspiracy that on May 21st, 2002, the defendant collected United States currency from Hafez Hussein, counted and bundled the money; and, while Hafez Hussein remained in the defendant's house, the defendant took a portion of the money -- namely, $66,870 -- in a cardboard box and he gave it to Abe Nassar, also known as Nassar Abdelrahman, who was waiting in a vehicle outside the defendant's residence in Cicero, Illinois.

It was further part fo the conspiracy that the defendant and his co-conspirators used cell phones to communicate with each other and to facilitate their drug trafficking activities.

The government would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was further part of the conspiracy that the defendant and his co-conspirators did conceal and hide and cause to be concealed and hidden the purposes and the acts done in furtherance of the conspiracy to avoid detection and apprehension by law enforcement authorities, and that these acts violated 21 USC, Section 846.

With respect to Count 2, the government would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on or about May 21st, 2002, at Cicero, in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division and elsewhere, the defendant Tariq Isa attempted to knowingly and intentionally possess and distribute a listed chemical; namely, approximately 1,728,000 tablets of pseudoephedrine, a List 1 chemical, knowing and having reasonable cause to believe that the pseudoephedrine would be used to manufacture a controlled substance; namely, mixtures containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a Schedule II narcotic controlled substance, in violation of 21 USC, Sections 841(c)(2) and 846.

This is the evidence the government would prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. (Id. at 24-26.)

After the government gave its factual basis for Isa's guilty plea, the Court asked Isa questions and Isa agreed with the factual basis at that time. (Id. at 27-30.) When the Court specifically asked Isa, "other than the amount of tablets -- the 1,728,000 tablets -- do you agree with everything that [the government] just said the government's evidence would show?" and Isa answered, "Yes, I agree." (Id. at 28.) Isa did indicate, however, that he disagreed with the number of tablets involved, as noted earlier by the Court. (Id.) Further, after the Court asked Isa, "did you participate in this conspiracy with Mr. Hussein and Mr. Nassar to distribute ...


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