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Williams v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. New York

February 19, 2015

KEIVAN WILLIAMS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondents.

OPINION & ORDER

KIMBA M. WOOD, District Judge.

Pro se petitioner Keivan Williams seeks a writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, based on allegations that his trial attorney, Stanislao German, rendered ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to object to errors in Williams's pre-sentencing report ("PSR"). For the reasons stated herein, Williams's petition is GRANTED.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

a. The Crime

Williams was arrested after his wife called the police stating that Williams was threatening to kill her. Williams's wife directed the police to Williams's car, and showed the police where Williams had hidden a large amount of cocaine as well as a loaded gun.

Williams was charged with and pleaded guilty to three counts: Count One charged Williams with possessing a firearm after having been previously convicted of a felony, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1); Count Two charged him with possessing with intent to distribute more than 300 grams of cocaine, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A); and Count Three charged him with the possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i).

b. Criminal History

In connection with his guilty plea, the Government provided Williams with a Pimentel letter, which, inter alia, listed Williams's criminal history. In that letter, the Government calculated that Williams had accrued seven criminal history points at the time he committed the crimes described above. (Gov't's Opp'n Mem., Ex. C [ECF No. 25-3] at 6). Although Williams's criminal history included seven different felonies, Williams received criminal history points for only one of them. ( Id. at 6-7). Williams's remaining six criminal history points related to misdemeanors. ( Id. )

c. Sentencing

The Government initially attempted to subject Williams to the enhanced penalty provisions of the Armed Criminal Career Act, which would have resulted in a mandatory, consecutive sentence of 15 years on Count One alone. See (Gov't Ltr., U.S. v. Williams, 10-CR-467 [ECF No. 31] at 1); 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). After the parties briefed the issue, the Government conceded that it could not carry its burden of showing that Williams had committed three prior felonies that involved a crime of violence or the sale of a controlled substance. (Gov't Ltr., U.S. v. Williams, at 1-2).

Both the Government and German, Williams's counsel, agreed, however, that pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(a)(2), [1] Williams's base offense level for Count One was 24. See (Williams Sentencing Mem., U.S. v. Williams [ECF No. 42] at 4); (Gov't Sentencing Mem., U.S. v. Williams [ECF No. 44] at 3). Both parties similarly agreed that the base offense level of Count Two was 22. See (Williams Sentencing Mem., U.S. v. Williams, at 4); (Gov't Sentencing Mem., U.S. v. Williams, at 3). Because those two counts could not be grouped together, Williams's adjusted offense level was set at 26. See (Williams Sentencing Mem., U.S. v. Williams, at 4); (Gov't Sentencing Mem., U.S. v. Williams, at 3); U.S.S.G. § 3D1.4. Based on a three-point offense level reduction for timely acceptance of responsibility pursuant to U.S.S.G. §§ 3E1.1(a), (b), both the Government and German ultimately agreed that Williams's final adjusted offense level was 23. See (Williams Sentencing Mem., U.S. v. Williams, at 4); (Gov't Sentencing Mem., U.S. v. Williams, at 3).

With an offense level of 23 and a criminal history category of four (based on the seven criminal history points referred to above), Williams's Sentencing Guidelines range was 70 to 87 months. See Federal Sentencing Guidelines -, Sentencing Table. Because Williams's third Count required a five-year mandatory consecutive sentence, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(i), his final adjusted Guidelines range was 130 to 147 months.

At sentencing, the Court accepted the Sentencing Guidelines range of 130 to 147 months, noting that the range was agreed upon by both parties. Based on the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors, the Court sentenced Williams to the "low end of the advisory guidelines"-130 months-but took off an additional four months because of ...


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