Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mazier v. United States

United States District Court, Second Circuit

August 12, 2013

RONNIE MAZIER, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

NAOMI REICE BUCHWALD, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Ronnie Mazier ("petitioner" or "Mazier") brings this pro se petition to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Petitioner challenges a sentence imposed by this Court on July 17, 2008, after a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to distribute 1, 000 kilograms or more of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846. The jury found petitioner not guilty of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924. This Court sentenced petitioner to a prison term of ten years, the mandatory minimum sentence under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(A) and 846.

Petitioner asserts what we generously interpret as five grounds for habeas relief: (1) Petitioner was denied his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to object to the total amount of marijuana allocated to him; (2) petitioner was denied his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to request a trial severance and petitioner was prejudiced by having a joint trial with his co-defendants; (3) the sentence imposed was improper because this Court (a) wrongly considered sentence enhancement factors for the charge on which petitioner was acquitted and (b) failed to apply necessary reduction factors; (4) petitioner was denied his Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to request and secure a more desirable prison facility for petitioner; and (5) the evidence presented against petitioner is insufficient to uphold his conviction.

For the reasons stated below, the petition is denied.

II. Background

A. Petitioner's Underlying Criminal Conduct

A group of persons involved in the large-scale distribution of marijuana, known as the "John Shop Crew, " operated out of the Bronx. Pet'r's Mem. of Law in Supp. of Mot. to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, at 4 [hereinafter Pet'r's Mot.]. From in or about 1997 until in or about 2004, the John Shop Crew transported large quantities of marijuana from California to New York, where the shipments were repackaged and stored in numerous stash houses around New York in preparation for retail. Gov't's Response to Pet'r's Mot. to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, at 1-2 [hereinafter Gov't's Opp'n]. The stash houses, including the 2748 Cruger Avenue residence that served as the John Shop Crew headquarters, were secured by firearms kept on the premises. Pet'r's Mot. 4-5.

The Cruger Avenue building also housed a music-recording studio, John Shop Records, which petitioner alleges was separate from the marijuana business. Id. at 5. Petitioner asserts that, although "[t]here is no doubt that [he] spent time around the house and studio no Cruger Avenue, " he was not involved in the marijuana distribution conspiracy, but rather was merely "participat[ing] in Cruger Avenue's vibrant and active music and partying scene." Id. at 5-6.

According to cooperating witness testimony, petitioner was seen in the vicinity of the Cruger Avenue house delivering marijuana to and receiving payment from customers. Tr. 1013:11-12, 1209:21-1210:20, 1569:25-1570:12.[1] Petitioner further participated in the conspiracy by delivering purchase money to California. Tr. 314:3-7. There was also testimony that petitioner stored and had access to firearms kept at 2748 Cruger Avenue. Tr. 762:14-19.

B. Petitioner's Conviction and Sentencing

On February 13, 2008, petitioner, along with five co-defendants, proceeded to a jury trial before this Court. Tr. 8:16-18. Prior to trial, petitioner had expressed dissatisfaction with his first attorney, Mr. Jerry Tritz, who had been appointed pursuant to the Criminal Justice Act. Letter from Pet'r to the Court (Nov. 16, 2006). Mr. Tritz subsequently withdrew as counsel for unrelated reasons. Letter from Jerry Tritz to the Court (Jan. 18, 2007). Petitioner was represented at trial by his second attorney, Mr. Howard Jacobs.

On March 4, 2008, petitioner was convicted by the jury of conspiring to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 1, 000 kilograms or more of marijuana. Tr. 2677:19-24. Petitioner was acquitted of possessing firearms in furtherance of the conspiracy. Tr. at 2679: 7-9.

On July 17, 2008, the Court sentenced petitioner to ten years in custody - the statutory mandatory minimum and a term of imprisonment significantly below the Guidelines range of 324 to 425 months. Sent'g Tr. 6:1-4. On petitioner's request, the Court recommended that he be housed at the prison facility at Fort Dix, New Jersey, to facilitate visits by his wife and child. Sent'g Tr. 7:6-9; see also Judgment in a Criminal Case at 2.

C. Post-Conviction Proceedings

Petitioner appealed his conviction, on two grounds. First, petitioner argued that insufficient evidence was presented at trial to sustain his conviction. He asserted that the cooperating witness testimony was "vague, general, and unreliable." Br. of Appellant Mazier at 11, United States v. Barris, 377 F.Appx. 93 (2d Cir. 2010) (Nos. 08-4247-cr(L), 08-4251-cr(CON), 08-4252-cr(CON), 08-5954-cr(CON)), 2009 WL 7166859. Additionally, he argued that a reasonable jury could not have found him guilty on the conspiracy charge but not on the firearm possession charge. Id. at 10-11. According to petitioner, because the same witness testimony was used to support each of the two charges, the testimony could not have justified a conviction on one ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.