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United States v. Dean

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

December 23, 2014

JOHN KARL DEAN, Defendant.


MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge.

John Karl Dean has moved to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. Dean also seeks an evidentiary hearing on his claims. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Dean's request for an evidentiary hearing and denies his section 2255 motion.


On September 23, 2010, Dean was charged with violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252A(a)(1) (transportation of child pornography) and 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(5)(b) (possession of child pornography) for transporting thousands of digital files of child pornography across the U.S.-Canada border on his laptop computer. At the time of his arrest, the SEC was also investigating Dean in relation to his role with Little Shell Gold Quest International. The SEC never filed any charges against Dean. After his arrest at the Canadian border, Dean was convicted of a child pornography offense in that country. He served twenty-one months in a Canadian prison before he was returned to the United States, where he was then prosecuted on U.S. child pornography charges.

1. The change of plea hearing

On April 27, 2011, Dean was arraigned, and the Court appointed Francis Baumgart to represent him. Dean entered a plea of not guilty.

On September 13, 2011, Dean appeared for a change of plea hearing. Dean withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty to the charge of transportation of child pornography. At the hearing, the Court questioned Dean to make sure that he was competent, he had the assistance of an attorney, he understood the nature of the charges and the possible penalties, he understood the rights he was giving up, and he was pleading guilty knowingly and voluntarily. Before accepting Dean's guilty plea, the Court explained to Dean that section 2252(a)(1) did not require knowledge of illegality, but only knowing transportation of child pornography across state lines or an international border.

During the hearing, Dean stated under oath that he had enough time to talk with his lawyer about his decision to plead guilty and that he was satisfied with both the advice given and the work that his lawyer had done. He also stated that he had told his lawyer everything he knew regarding the case. Dean further stated that he understood everything in the plea agreement he signed. He affirmed that he was pleading guilty to the charge on his own free will and that he had not been coerced or promised anything other than what was in the plea agreement. Dean also made it clear that he understood what the government would have to prove to convict him. He also affirmed, in response to detailed questions, that he understood how the Sentencing Guidelines worked and how the Court would go about sentencing him.

2. The sentencing hearing

Prior to his sentencing hearing on February 22, 2012, Dean filed a pro se motion to vacate his guilty plea, claiming he had been coerced to plead guilty and that he had not been advised of his rights. The Court denied this motion, pointing out among other things that during the guilty plea hearing, Dean had stated under oath that he had not been pressured or coerced and had affirmed his awareness of his rights. See Case No. 10 CR 787, Feb. 22, 2012 Tr. at 4-13.

Next, Dean confirmed that he had read the presentence report and had discussed it with his lawyer. Id. at 15. Addressing issues under the advisory Sentencing Guidelines, the Court overruled the government's contention that Dean was not entitled to credit for acceptance of responsibility. Id. at 19-25. After crediting Dean with acceptance of responsibility, the Court found that the advisory range under the Sentencing Guidelines was 151 month to 188 months imprisonment.

The government argued that Dean's involvement in a Ponzi scheme and the resulting SEC investigation warranted an enhanced sentence. Dean's counsel argued that the Court should not take this into consideration in imposing sentence. The Court agreed with Dean and did not take Dean's involvement in these matters into account.

The Court concluded that the advisory Guidelines range was too severe and used a below-range starting point of 108 months. The Court then concluded that it should give Dean credit for the twenty-one months that he had served in prison in Canada on related charges. As a result, the Court imposed a ...

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