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Fluker v. United States

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

March 22, 2019

CARMEN A. FLUKER, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Carmen A. Fluker's motion filed under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence. On October 30, 2014, pursuant to a written plea agreement, Petitioner pled guilty to using interstate facilities to promote prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952(a)(3). On February 1 2015, the Court sentenced Petitioner to 48 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release.[1] Petitioner did not appeal.

         In her pro se motion to vacate and set aside her conviction and sentence, Petition claims that: (1) plea counsel was ineffective for failing to adequately explain the legal terms used in her plea agreement; (2) her guilty plea was “unconstitutional”; and (3) the was insufficient proof of the essential elements of her criminal charge. After the government filed its response, Petitioner filed a reply memorandum asserting several ne claims, including: (4) that she entered her guilty plea “under the influence of both prescription and street drugs” and (5) that plea counsel was ineffective for failing to present to the Court evidence that Petitioner suffered from several mental and physical impairments, and that she was the primary caregiver for her elderly parents. ECF No. 8 at 1-2. As the record before the Court conclusively demonstrates that Petitioner is not entitled to relief, the Court will deny Petitioner's motion without an evidentiary hearing.

         BACKGROUND

         Criminal Proceedings

         As part of the guilty plea agreement signed by both parties, Petitioner stipulated to the following facts.

On May 4, 2011, a confidential informant (hereinafter referred to as “CI# l”) working with St. Louis County detectives identified a residence in Bel-Ridge, Missouri as a location where drugs and liquor were being sold at a “club” within. Investigators determined that at the so-called “Yes We Can Social Club” located at 8885 Snowhill Court, nude women danced for and entertained customers in a “VIP” room and marijuana was available for use. The VIP room at the club was a bedroom, where the dancers performed commercial sex acts. Additionally, dancers or their customers had to pay defendant Fluker a fee for access to the “VIP” room.
Investigators also determined that the “Yes We Can Social Club, ” was incorporated with the state of Missouri on January 3, 2011, and defendant Fluker had Facebook profiles and a listing on Blackplanet.com in which Fluker advertised that she was looking for female dancers for the “club.” Following, [CI#1] made video recordings of the activities going on inside the club. This evidence included views of female dancers in various stages of undress, stripping and pole dancing, accepting cash and talking to customers on the main floor and in the basement. Also, the club was located near the Metro Link train station and dancers/prostitutes and customers utilized the Metro Link to travel to the club.
On August 11, 2011, St. Louis County officers executed a search warrant at the residence of the defendant after CI#1 reported that females under the age of 18 years older were stripping and performing commercial sex acts at the defendant's residence. Several people were arrested after the search warrant was executed. Also, numerous items associated with promoting prostitution were seized which included, but was not limited to: cell phones, executed contracts denoting an agreement between various females and the defendant regarding stripping, items from a bar area where liquor was seized, a stripper pole, video footage from the defendant's surveillance system showing several nude females in different parts of the house partaking in stripping and entering/exiting the “VIP” room with various customers. Following, investigators also interviewed two other minor females who admitted to working at the defendant's house/“Yes We Can Social Club.”
After the defendant was arrested in August 2011, she moved from her St. Louis County residence to a house in St. Louis City. In 2014, the defendant then moved back to St. Louis County. Following, a subsequent Confidential Informant (hereinafter referred to as “CI#2”) then reported that she had been a stripper and prostitute at all of the defendant's “clubs” for the past several years. Cl#2 then agreed to take a video recorder into the newly formed club named “Club Luscious Social”/defendant's most recent residence, at 424 Warfield in St. Louis County. The video footage showed the defendant's residence set up like a “club, ” including an area for a bartender, seating areas, a stripper pole and large screen television for the patrons to watch pornographic movies.
During the video recording, the defendant was also seen and heard describing her “club” and the various customers and how she text messaged the “girls” and customers to let them know the “club” was open for business. The defendant also discussed the “VIP” room at her residence. The “VIP” room at the “club” was a bedroom, where the dancers performed commercial sex acts and the defendant would take a share of the profit by charging the customer or dancer a fee to use the room. The fee is called a “tip out.” Therefore, the defendant admits that she used the following facilities in interstate commerce to promote and manage prostitution activities: (1) the use of the internet and cellular phone to advertise her “club” to potential and current customers, (2) the use of cellular phones to send texts to dancers/prostitutes and (3) the use of the Metro Link train station by dancers/prostitutes and customers to travel to her “club.”
Lastly, defendant Fluker agrees that she, a resident of the Eastern District of Missouri, was the recipient of Social Security Disability payments from [the Social Security Administration (“SSA”)] based upon a claim that she had a disability which prevented her from seeking substantially gainful employment. As such, she was required to report to SSA if her condition changed or she obtained employment.

United States v. Fluker, No. 4:14-cr-00138, ECF No. 43 at 3-5 (Oct. 30, 2014).

         On May 7, 2014, Petitioner was indicted on one Count of using interstate facilities to promote prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952(a)(3). Petitioner initially pled not guilty.

         As noted above, Petitioner entered into a plea agreement on October 30, 2014. In exchange for Petitioner's voluntary plea of guilty to the Count charged in the indictment, the government agreed that no further federal prosecution would be brought in this District relative to Petitioner's involvement in the Count, and related substantive conduct, including Petitioner's receipt of payments or subsidies from the SSA and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, of which the government was aware at the time. The plea agreement provided that either party could request a sentence above or below the United States Sentencing Guidelines range ultimately determined by the Court. The parties further waived all rights to appeal all ...


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