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United States v. Dixon

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

July 28, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Jerome Dixon, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ELAINE E. BUCKLO, District Judge.

Petitioner Jerome Dixon pled guilty to possessing a firearm after previously being convicted of a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Petitioner entered into a plea agreement on December 22, 2011, and was sentenced to a term of 180 months' imprisonment on May 14, 2012. Petitioner thereafter filed a Petition to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("§ 2255"). For the reasons that follow, petitioner's motion is denied.

I.

Petitioner was sentenced to a term of 180 months' imprisonment and two years of supervised release after pleading guilty to possessing a firearm after previously being convicted of a felony in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Under the terms of the plea agreement, petitioner agreed that he qualified as an Armed Career Criminal ("ACC") pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) and USSG §§ 4B1.4(b)(3)(A) and (c)(2) in light of his three prior convictions for violent felonies or serious drug offenses. Specifically, he agreed that he was convicted of the following offenses in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois:

(1) December 11, 1998: manufacturing/delivering a controlled substance in violation of 720 ILCS 570/401(c)(2), for which petitioner was sentenced to 24 months' probation;
(2) June 13, 2001: aggravated battery of a policy officer, in violation of 720 ILCS 5/12-4(B)(6), for which petitioner was sentenced to two years' imprisonment;
(3) July 31, 2003: manufacturing/delivering a controlled substance in violation of 720 ILCS 570/401(D), for which petitioner was sentenced to three year's imprisonment;
(4) October 22, 2003: aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in violation of 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(A)(1), for which petitioner was sentenced to four years' imprisonment; and
(5) February 7, 2007: possession of a controlled substance in violation of 720 ILCS 570/402(c), for which he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

When petitioner pleaded guilty, he admitted to the conduct in the instant case: he carried a loaded firearm to protect thirteen Ziploc bags containing over eight grams of marijuana in his possession that he intended to sell. Plea Hrg. Tr. at 13-15. He further admitted that while in possession of the firearm, he sold a baggie of marijuana in exchange for money. Id. Under the terms of the plea agreement, petitioner agreed to a sentence of fifteen years' imprisonment pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C), and waived his right to appellate and collateral rights in exchange for the Government's promise to drop the other two counts[1] in the indictment.

II.

Under § 2255, a prisoner in federal custody may petition the court that imposed his sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence on the ground that it was "imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack." 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

III.

Petitioner challenges his sentence on the basis that the finding that he was an ACC was erroneous. He argues that based on a letter he received from the State of Illinois when he was discharged from parole, he reasonably believed that his prior convictions in Illinois state court "were discharged and all of his civil rights were restored;" thus, his former state conviction could not serve as a basis for the recidivist enhancement under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). Pet. Br. [#3] at 2. His argument relies on United States v. Buchmeier, 518 F.3d 563-64 (7th Cir. 2009), in which the Seventh Circuit held that defendants who received poorly-crafted discharge letters from the State of Illinois that misled convicted criminals about their subsequent right to carry firearms could not be considered Armed Career Criminals under federal statute 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). While petitioner is currently unable to locate the letter he received from the ...


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