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U.S. v. VERNON

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 ...


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