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Brockett v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 18, 2015

JAMALI BROCKETT, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

Barry Gene Rhodes, BARRY G. RHODES ATTORNEY AT LAW, New York, NY, Attorney for Petitioner.

Licha M. Nyiendo, LORETTA E. LYNCH, ESQ., United States Attorney Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn, NY, Attorney for Respondent.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

STERLING JOHNSON, Jr., District Judge.

Petitioner Jamali Brockett ("Brockett"), filed a pro se petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("Section 2255") to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence on the grounds that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The Government opposed. On September 4, 2012, the Petitioner filed an additional pro se supplemental Section 2255 Motion. On September 5, 2012, the Court granted the Petitioner's request to be appointed counsel. On September 20, 2013, the Petitioner, through counsel, filed a motion for an evidentiary hearing to adduce evidence regarding Brockett's ineffective assistance of counsel claims. The Court denied this request on October 24, 2014, finding sufficient evidence in the record upon which to base its decision. Based on the submissions of the parties, and for the reasons stated below, the Section 2255 Motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

On November 4, 2008 Petitioner Brockett and co-defendant Hassan Portee ("Portee") were arrested at a Howard Johnson Hotel in New York City. An FBI investigation revealed that, between March 2008 and November 2008, Petitioner and Portee obtained money by promoting the prostitution of at least seven girls, from as young as 14 years old, in New York City, Long Island, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, among other locations. Petitioner was thereafter indicted, charged with: (1) two counts of sex trafficking of a child, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1591(a)(1)-(a)(2) ("Counts 1-2"); (2) two counts of sex trafficking of women, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1591(a)(1)-(a)(2) ("Counts 3-4"); (3) Conspiracy to Violate the Mann Act, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2421 ("Count 5"); (4) two counts of Mann Act Violations in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2421, 2 and 3551 et seq. ("Counts 6-7").

Brockett was arraigned by Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy on December 2, 2008. He first appeared before the undersigned on December 19, 2008, when the parties reported plea negotiations. Though he was represented by counsel, Brockett wrote a pro se letter to the Court in which he claimed that his involvement in the offenses was a result of duress. (Dkt. No. 22.) Specifically, Brockett's letter stated that he sold marijuana to pimps in Manhattan who then forced him to book hotel rooms for them so that Brockett's name, and not theirs, would be connected to the prostitution. Brockett goes on to explain that he had a girlfriend who he visited in Pennsylvania and that the girlfriend's mother was planning a wedding in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that would coincide with Myrtle Beach's annual Bike Week. Brockett claimed to have traveled to Myrtle Beach with a prostitute but only because the prostitute was afraid of her pimp and felt safe with Brockett. (See id. at 5-6.) He also claimed to have rented a hotel room for her when they returned from South Carolina, and to have posted an ad on Craigslist offering her services.

At the June 4, 2009 appearance, Brockett's defense counsel, Heidi Cesare, reported a breakdown in the attorney/client relationship, and Mitchell Golub ("Golub") was appointed to represent Brockett. Three appearances later, the parties still had not reached an agreement and a trial date was set for November 2, 2009. The parties then reported to the Court that they had reached an agreement. Pursuant to that agreement, Brockett would plead guilty to Count One of the indictment. The agreement contemplated a base offense level of 30, with adjustments for influencing a minor, using a computer, an act of a commercial nature, restraint of victim and acceptance of responsibility, for a total offense level of 36 and a resulting guideline range of 188 to 235 months. The agreement contained an appellate waiver barring Brockett from appealing any sentence below 235 months.

On October 16, 2009, a conference was held and the parties notified the Court that Brockett would be pleading that day to the indictment rather than according to the plea agreement. (See Dkt. No. 1 at 16 ("I choose [ sic ] not to sign it because I was told that if I sign I give up all my rights to appeal.").)

At the allocution, the Court inquired of the government the proof that would be brought had the parties gone to trial.

Government: Your Honor, if we had to go to trial, we would present witnesses and documentary evidence reflecting that the defendant, starting around March 2008, went into the business of pimping. He enticed and coerced girls and women - when I say girls, I mean some of the girls were under 18. Some of the girls were over 18 - but he enticed these girls and women to become prostitutes, to work for him.
He set up a business such that he put ads on Craigslist, on the internet, and would advertise these girls and women to customers. The customers would call the phone number reflected on the ads, and the customers would make arrangements with these girls and women to meet in hotel rooms that the defendant and a coconspirator would pay for.
In the hotel rooms, the girls would prostitute themselves out for $200 an hour, and the defendant would collect all the money that was earned from this prostitution for himself.
The defendant did these activities between March 2008 and September 2008. And these activities - the prostitution occurred in Queens as well as out of state, in ...

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