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U.S. v. VERNON

United States District Court, Southern District of New York


April 17, 2003

PAUL VERNON, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert W. Sweet, United States District Judge.

SENTENCING OPINION

Defendant Paul Vernon ("Vernon") pled guilty on October 9, 2002 to possessing a Baretta .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol on March 12, 2002, which had been previously shipped and transported in interstate commerce. He further pled guilty to possessing at least one round of .40 caliber ammunition manufactured by Speer on March 12, 2002, which had previously been shipped and transported in interstate commerce. Both of these acts occurred after Vernon had been convicted of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. As such, they are in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g)(1). For the reasons set forth below, Vernon will be sentenced to 34 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release. Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3013, a special assessment fee of $200 is mandatory.

The Defendant

Vernon was born on February 7, 1959, in Kingston, Jamaica. He is the third of six children born to the marital union of Vincent Vernon, deceased since 1990, and Eucena Vernon, age 69. Vernon's father, who died of a heart attack, was a carpenter, and his mother is a nurse's aide. Vernon's mother came to the United States from Jamaica in 1969, seeking a better life. His father stayed in Jamaica and never jointed the family in the United States. Vernon's father was a heavy drinker, who would often physically abuse him. Vernon was raised under difficult economic circumstances, and his mother worked hard to support the family.

According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Vernon entered the United States on December 11, 1975. He is currently a permanent resident, but if convicted of a felony offense, he may be amenable to removal proceedings for violations of the Immigration Act.

Vernon stated that he married Sonia Brown in December 1987 in Bronx, New York. They separated three months later and divorced in 1997. In a prior presentence report, Vernon advised that his ex-wife's name was Lola Vernon and that they divorced in 1988. Vernon has three children by different women, none of whom reside with him. Vernon advised that he is no longer involved with any of the children's mothers.

Vernon resides in Bronx, New York with his mother. He has lived there since his discharge from the army in 1985.

Vernon provided five letters from members of his community, which indicate that Vernon is dedicated to the community and participates in events to help others. One letter indicated that Vernon developed a scholarship fund for the children of parents who were victims of the World Trade Center attack.

In 1980, Vernon spent three months in a psychiatric ward at Walter Reed Military Hospital. According to Vernon, he was brought from Germany, where he was stationed, to Washington D.C. because he was diagnosed with split personality disorder. Vernon was given Thorazine and subsequently released and placed back on duty. Vernon received no further treatment for any mental or emotional illness.

Vernon attended Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx, New York. However, he did not complete ninth grade. Vernon received his GED in 1978 while in the military. He attended Bronx Community College from 1981 to 1983, and he is 14 credits short of completing his Associates Degree.

Vernon first entered the United States Army in January 1977, and received an Honorable Discharge in February 1980. He then was on Active Reserve duty from 1980 to 1983. Vernon re-enlisted in the United States Army on August 6, 1985 and was discharged on September 20, 1985 because he did "not meet procurement medical fitness standards."

Vernon is currently unemployed. He is supported by his savings and his monthly expenses are taken care of by his mother, who provides him with food and shelter.

The instant offense represents Vernon's fifth criminal conviction and his second felony conviction. Since his plea, Vernon was arrested on December 11, 2002, for Assault 3 and Harassment 2, stemming from a domestic dispute with his daughter's mother.

The Offense

Vernon pled guilty on two counts of Felony in Possession of a Firearm and Ammunition. Vernon was apprehended by police officers after they received a call notifying them that Vernon fired two shots into another vehicle. Vernon was found in possession of a partially disassembled gun, several rounds of ammunition, and a spent shell casing.

The Guidelines

Counts One and Two of the Felony charge are grouped, pursuant to § 3D1.2 (a), since the offense level involved the same act.

According to the November 1, 2002 edition of the Guidelines Manual, the guideline for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922 (g) is found in § 2K2.1. However, pursuant to § 2K2.1 (c)(1), because Vernon used and possessed the firearm and ammunition in connection with the attempted commission of another offense, § 2X.1 should be applied if the resulting offense level is greater than that determined by § 2K2.1. This is the case here where the offense is attempted murder, and pursuant to § 2A2.1(a)(2), the base offense level is 22.

Vernon's acceptance of responsibility warrants a three-level reduction, pursuant to U.S.S.G § 3E1.1(a) and (b). Thus, the adjusted offense level is 19.

Vernon's previous criminal history includes criminal possession of marihuana, possession of a weapons 3, and disorderly conduct. Vernon has no criminal history points, and a Criminal History Category of I.

Based on these calculations, Vernon's stipulated guidelines range is 30 to 37 months.

The Sentence

Vernon will be sentenced to 34 months of imprisonment, the mid range of the guidelines, on the basis of his criminal history and the circumstances of his offense. This is to be followed by three years of supervised release.

Within 72 hours of his release from custody, Vernon is to report to the nearest Probation Office, and supervision shall be in the district of residence. As mandatory conditions of supervised release, Vernon shall (1) abide by the standard terms of supervised release (1-13); (2) not commit another federal, state, or local crime; (3) not illegally possess a controlled substance; (4) not possess a firearm or destructive devise; and (5) shall comply with the directives of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Immigration laws.

Pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Vernon shall submit to one drug test within fifteen (15) days of commencement of probation, parole, or supervised release, and to at least two unscheduled drug tests thereafter, as directed by the probation officer.

A special assessment fee of $200 is mandatory and due immediately.

This sentence is subject to modification at the sentencing hearing now set for April 29, 2003.

It is so ordered.

20030417

© 1992-2003 VersusLaw Inc.



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