United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, JUDGE.
Francies' amended motion for post-conviction relief 
is denied. Petitioner Streets' amended motion for
post-conviction relief  is denied. Petitioner
Meachum's amended motion for post-conviction relief 
over twenty years ago, three then-Chicago police
officers-Tyrone Francies, Baxter Streets, and Gerald Meachum
(collectively, "Petitioners")-were tried and
convicted for conspiring with a drug dealer (and each other)
to rob other purported drug dealers. Unbeknownst to
Petitioners at the time, the victims of their plot on two
occasions were not other criminals but rather undercover
federal agents and a confidential informant. Overwhelming
evidence against Petitioners was submitted to a jury at a
joint trial, including days of relevant testimony and video
and audio recording of a November 15, 1996 attempted robbery,
which underlies the crucial conviction for purposes of this
motion, as will be discussed at length below. During that
November attempted robbery, the video shows Petitioners
approaching the federal agent and confidential informant and,
at gunpoint, ordering them out of their car before robbing
them of $11, 000, which they later divvied up among the
conspirators. Petitioners carried out a similar robbery on
December 4, 1996, which netted the conspirators another $12,
000 of FBI-planted money.
the trial, which spanned more than a month, Petitioners were
each convicted of five felony counts: two counts of attempted
robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (Hobbs Act)
(Counts 3 and 4); conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten,
and intimidate persons in the exercise and enjoyment of their
constitutional right to be free from deprivation of property
without due process of law, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
241 (Count 5); and two counts of using and carrying a firearm
during and in relation to the commission of a crime of
violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Counts 6
noted, two of the convictions were for violations of 18
U.S.C. 924(c), an enhancing statute that criminalizes the use
of a firearm in the commission of certain qualifying, or
predicate, crimes and requires additional and consecutive
punishment in the event of conviction. Section 924(c)
convictions necessarily operate with a predicate-that is, the
924(c) conviction must be based on the conviction of some
other qualifying crime plus the finding of the use and
carrying of a firearm in the course of the predicate offense.
Put simply, Section 924(c) is violated when the individual is
convicted of the qualifying crime and the jury also finds
that a firearm was used in the course of that qualifying
Petitioners, the jury was instructed that the Count 6 Section
924(c) violation could be predicated on Count 3 (attempted
Hobbs Act robbery) or Count 5 (civil rights conspiracy). The
jury was instructed that the Count 7 Section 924(c) violation
could be predicated on Count 4 (attempted Hobbs Act robbery).
The jury convicted Petitioners on both Section 924(c) counts.
On June 9, 1998, the Court sentenced Francies to concurrent
terms of 108 months on Counts 1, 3, 4 and 5; a consecutive
term of 60 months on the § 924(c) charge in Count 6; and
a consecutive term of 240 months on the § 924(c) charge
in Count 7. On June 11, 1998, the Court sentenced Streets to
concurrent terms of 108 months on Counts 1, 3, 4 and 5; a
consecutive term of 60 months on the § 924(c) charge in
Count 6; and a consecutive term of 240 months on the §
924(c) charge in Count 7. On June 9, 1998, the Court
sentenced Meachum to concurrent terms of 188 months'
imprisonment on Counts 1, 3 and 4 and 120 months'
imprisonment on Count 5; a consecutive term of 60 months'
imprisonment on the § 924(c) charge in Count 6; and a
consecutive term of 240 months' imprisonment on the
§ 924(c) charge in Count 7.
now bring their second or successive motions to vacate, set
aside, or correct their sentences under 28 U.S.C. §
2255. Petitioners argue that because the residual clause in
Section 924(c) has been invalidated by the Supreme
Court's recent ruling in United States v. Davis,
139 S.Ct. 2319 (June 24, 2019), each of the two Section
924(c) convictions are invalid and Petitioners are entitled
to immediate release. Petitioners make alternative arguments.
First, that attempted Hobbs Act robbery is not a proper
predicate offense now that the residual clause of Section
924(c) has been invalidated. Second, Petitioners argue that,
even if attempted Hobbs Act robbery is a proper predicate
offense, Count 6 must still be invalidated because the jury
instruction at trial stated that the Count 6 924(c) predicate
could be either the attempted Hobbs Act robbery or the civil
rights conspiracy. Petitioners argue that because civil
rights conspiracy is not a crime of violence, it is possible
that the Count 6 Section 924(c) conviction was invalidly
based on the use of a firearm during the commission of the
civil rights conspiracy (as opposed to during the attempted
Hobbs Act robbery on November 15, 1996).
Government's chief counterpunches are (1) that attempted
Hobbs Act robbery is a crime of violence under established
Seventh Circuit precedent (a point that Petitioners concede),
and (2) that any error as to the Count 6 jury instruction is
subject to a harmless error analysis, which here shows that
Petitioners were properly convicted of Count 6 for using
their guns (their service guns nonetheless) during the
commission of the violent attempted Hobbs Act robbery, and
any potential confusion arising from the alternative nature
of the jury instruction was harmless. The Court agrees with
the Government on both points and thus Petitioners'
motions are denied.
facts at issue in this matter are well known to the Court. In
the summer of 1996, a Confidential Informant ("CI")
working with the FBI reported that he had become aware that
Robert Meeks, a civilian drug dealer, was working with
Chicago police officers to set up other drug dealers to rob
them of their money and drugs. Subsequent investigation
revealed that Petitioners were the officers to whom the CI
November 1996, the CI purchased heroin from Meeks-heroin
Meeks had told the CI was from an earlier robbery committed
by Meeks and Petitioner Meachum (a Chicago police officer).
In the following weeks, Meeks encouraged the CI to help set
up a robbery of other drug dealers. On November 14, 1996, the
CI met with Meeks and Meachum to plan such a robbery.
Pursuant to that plan, the next day, November 15, 1996, the
CI and an undercover federal agent posing as a drug dealer
went to a Jewel parking lot. The undercover officer brought
$11, 000 with him, purportedly for purchasing drugs. Shortly
after their arrival, two police cars approached, one
containing Petitioner Meachum and another officer and the
other containing the other two Petitioners, Francies and
Streets. Francies and Streets approached the vehicle, with
guns drawn, and ordered the CI and agent out of the car.
Streets then searched the car and located the money. At that
point, as had been planned the day earlier, Streets
"arrested" the CI, claiming there was an
outstanding warrant on him. Petitioners allowed the
undercover agent to leave freely.
December 3, 1996, following several other recorded phone
conversations, the CI met with Meachum and Meeks again to
plan another robbery. The CI explained that the next day he
would be meeting with another drug dealer who was going to be
purchasing a half kilogram of cocaine for $12, 000. Much like
the first robbery, on December 4, 1996, Petitioners
approached the CI and a second undercover agent with guns
drawn and ordered them out of the vehicle. Streets then
recovered the money from within the car and acted as if he
had also recovered a large bundle of cocaine. The undercover
agent was allowed to leave the scene again, with Streets
saying "I advise you to get the f- out of here."
Upon re-entering their police car, with the CI "under
arrest" in the back seat, Streets stated, to the CI,
"We're so f-in' smooth, ridiculous."
each robbery, the proceeds were split amongst the defendants
(including Meeks) and the CI returned his cut to authorities.
Petitioners never reported the incidents or catalogued the
money in evidence.
March 12, 1997, a grand jury returned an indictment for
Petitioners and Meeks, and bench warrants were issued the
following day. A superseding indictment was filed on June 11,
1997. The charges in the superseding indictment were as
• Count 1: Beginning in or about the summer of 1996 and
continuing throughout on or about March 18, 1997, while
employed as Chicago Police Officers, Defendants Meachum,
Francies, Streets and Meeks did conspire to commit robbery;
in violation of Title 18, U.S.C. §§ 1951 and 2;
• Count 2: On or about September 28, 1996, Defendant
Meeks knowingly and intentionally distributed approximately
nine grams of heroin; in violation of ...