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Payne v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division

November 14, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on Movant Ricky Lynn Payne's Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody, based on Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). (ECF 1). Movant has also filed a Supplement to his Motion. (ECF 21). The government has filed a Response. (ECF 22). Movant has not filed a timely Reply. As such Movant's Motion is ready for disposition. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the Motion.


         On December 13, 2005, Movant was charged, by Indictment, with being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e). The Indictment charged that, on or about July 23, 2005, in Dunklin County, within the Eastern District of Missouri, Movant possessed a “.38 Special caliber derringer”; that Movant had been previously convicted, in Missouri, on August 26, 1981, and on January 13, 1993, of the felonies of Burglary and Stealing; that Movant had also been previously convicted, in Arkansas, on January 26, 1987, of the felony of Breaking and Entering; and that each of these prior three felonies was punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year. United States v. Payne, Case No. 1:05CR182-1-JCH (E.D. Mo.) (ECF 1).

         On February 27, 2006, Movant entered into a written plea agreement, in which he agreed that he had previously been convicted of the felonies as alleged in the Indictment. In exchange for Movant's agreeing to plead guilty, as charged in the Indictment, the Government agreed that no further federal prosecution would be brought in the Eastern District of Missouri in connection with the offense conduct. Payne, Case No. 1:05CR182-1-JCH (ECF 25 at 2, 8).

         The Probation Office thereafter prepared a Presentence Investigation Report (PSR). (ECF 1.1 at 16-34). The PSR stated that Movant had at least three prior violent felony convictions and was subject to an enhanced sentence under the provisions of the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e) (a person who violates § 922(g) and has 3 prior violent felony convictions shall be sentenced for not less than fifteen years); it recommended that Movant be sentenced as an armed career criminal (ACC); and it did not specify which of Movant's prior convictions constituted violent felonies for purposes of the ACCA. (ECF 1.1 at 20). On May 22, 2006, the Court sentenced Movant to 188 months in prison. Payne, Case No. 1:05CR182-1-JCH (ECF 33).

         On September 8, 2015, following the Supreme Court's decision in Johnson, 135 S.Ct. 2551, Movant filed his § 2255 Motion in which he argues that his Arkansas Breaking and Entering felony conviction is no longer a valid qualifying prior felony conviction under the ACCA, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), and that, as such, he is being unlawfully detained because of “a wrongful imposition of sentence enhancement under the [ACCA].” (ECF 1 at 9). In the Supplement to his § 2255 Motion, Movant also argues that Mathis v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2243 (2016), supports his claim. (ECF 21). Movant does not contest that the two Missouri second degree burglary convictions specified in the Indictment and the Plea Agreement qualify as predicate violent felony offenses under the ACCA. The Government argues, in its Response, that, even excluding Movant's Arkansas Breaking and Entering felony conviction, he still qualified as an ACC because he had three Missouri second degree burglary convictions which remain qualifying predicate offenses under the ACCA. For the reasons discussed below, the Court agrees with the Government, and will, therefore, deny Movant's Motion.


         As explained in Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257, 1261 (2016):

Federal law prohibits any felon-meaning a person who has been convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison-from possessing a firearm. 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). A person who violates that restriction can be sentenced to prison for up to 10 years. § 924(a)(2). For some felons, however, the Armed Career Criminal Act imposes a much more severe penalty. Under the Act, a person who possesses a firearm after three or more convictions for a “serious drug offense” or a “violent felony” is subject to a minimum sentence of 15 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. § 924(e)(1). Because the ordinary maximum sentence for a felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years, while the minimum sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act is 15 years, a person sentenced under the Act will receive a prison term at least five years longer than the law otherwise would allow.

         In particular, the ACCA, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1) provides:

         In the case of a person who violates section 922(g) of this title and has three previous convictions by any court referred to in section 922(g)(1) of this title for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another, such person shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than fifteen years, and, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the court shall not suspend the sentence of, or grant a probationary sentence to, such person with respect to the conviction under section 922(g).

         The ACCA, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2) further provides:

(B) the term “violent felony” means any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding ...

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