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United States v. Claypool

United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Clarksburg

March 30, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ERNEST RUSSELL CLAYPOOL, Jr., Defendant.

          KEELEY JUDGE

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION CONCERNING PLEA OF GUILTY IN FELONY CASE

          MICHAEL JOHN ALOI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter has been referred to the undersigned Magistrate Judge by the District Court for purposes of conducting proceedings pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11 (Dkt. No. 135). Defendant, Ernest Russell Claypool, Jr., in person and by counsel, Scott Radman, appeared before me on March 27, 2018. The Government appeared by Assistant United States Attorney, Traci Cook. The Court determined that Defendant was prepared to enter a plea of "Guilty" to Count Twenty-Eight (28) and Count Twenty-Nine (29) of the Indictment.

         The Court proceeded with the Rule 11 proceeding by first placing Defendant under oath and inquiring into Defendant's competency. The Court determined Defendant was competent to proceed with the Rule 11 plea hearing and cautioned and examined Defendant under oath concerning all matters mentioned in Rule 11.

         The Court next inquired of Defendant concerning his understanding of his right to have an Article III Judge hear the entry of his guilty plea and his understanding of the difference between an Article III Judge and a Magistrate Judge. Defendant thereafter stated in open court that he voluntarily waived his right to have an Article III Judge hear his plea and voluntarily consented to the undersigned Magistrate Judge hearing his plea. Defendant tendered to the Court a written Waiver of Article III Judge and Consent to Enter Guilty Plea before Magistrate Judge. The waiver and consent was signed by Defendant, countersigned by Defendant's counsel, and concurred by the signature of the Assistant United States Attorney.

         Upon consideration of the sworn testimony of Defendant, as well as the representations of his counsel and the representations of the Government, the Court finds that the oral and written waiver of an Article III Judge and consent to enter a guilty plea before a Magistrate Judge was freely and voluntarily given. Additionally, the Court finds that the written waiver and consent was freely and voluntarily executed by Defendant Ernest Russell Claypool only after having had his rights fully explained to him and having a full understanding of those rights through consultation with his counsel, as well as through questioning by the Court. The Court ORDERED the written Waiver and Consent to Enter Guilty Plea before a Magistrate Judge filed and made part of the record.

         Thereafter, the Court determined that Defendant's plea was pursuant to a written plea agreement, and asked the Government to tender the original to the Court. The Court asked counsel for the Government if the agreement was the sole agreement offered to Defendant. The Government responded that it was, and counsel for Defendant confirmed the same. The Court asked counsel for the Government to summarize the written plea agreement. The Government advised that there was a correction to the stipulation contained in the plea agreement, in that it is stipulated that Defendant's total drug relevant conduct includes at least ten (10) kilograms, but not more than twenty (20) kilograms, of marijuana equivalent. The Government further advised that there was forfeiture in this case. Counsel for Defendant and Defendant stated that the agreement as summarized by counsel for the Government was correct and complied with their understanding of the agreement. The undersigned further inquired of Defendant regarding his understanding of the written plea agreement. Defendant stated he understood the terms of the written plea agreement and also stated that it contained the whole of his agreement with the Government and no promises or representations were made to him by the Government other than those terms contained in the written plea agreement. The Court ORDERED the written plea agreement filed.

         The undersigned then reviewed with Defendant Count Twenty-Eight (28) and Count Twenty-Nine (29) of the Indictment and the elements the Government would have to prove, charging him with Aiding and Abetting the Possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and Aiding and Abetting maintaining a drug involved premises in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), 18 U.S.C. § 2, and 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(1). Subsequently, Defendant Ernest Russell Claypool pled GUILTY to the charge contained in Count Twenty-Eight (28) and Count Twenty-Nine (29) of the Indictment. However, before accepting Defendant's plea, the undersigned inquired of Defendant's understanding of the charges against him, inquired of Defendant's understanding of the consequences of him pleading guilty to the charges, and obtained the factual basis for Defendant's plea.

         The Government proffered a factual basis for the plea explaining the facts and investigation leading to the instant charges against Defendant. Neither counsel for Defendant nor Defendant disputed the proffer when given the opportunity to do so; with a few minor exceptions; Defendant stated he heard, understood, and apart from those few things did not disagree with the Government's proffer largely. Those were that Defendant's recollection of his location in the home was in a different room than the Government had indicated. Defendant also indicated that he had not witnessed heroin being sold out of his home, though he acknowledged that he now does not necessarily have any reason to doubt that it was. However, Defendant concurred that it was a fact that he had sold marijuana and had firearms, and thus provided an independent factual basis for the commission of the offenses. The undersigned Magistrate Judge concludes the offense charged in Count Twenty-Eight (28) and Count Twenty-Nine (29) of the Indictment is supported by an independent basis in fact concerning each of the essential elements of such offense, and that independent basis is provided by Defendant's testimony.

         The undersigned then reviewed with Defendant the statutory penalties applicable to an individual adjudicated guilty of the felony charge contained in Count Twenty-Eight (28) and Count Twenty-Nine (29) of the Indictment and the impact of the sentencing guidelines on sentencing in general. From said review, the undersigned Magistrate Judge determined Defendant understood the nature of the charges pending against him and that the possible statutory maximum sentence which could be imposed upon his conviction or adjudication of guilty on Count Twenty-Eight (28) was not less than five (5) years' imprisonment; a fine of not more than $250, 000, and both fine and imprisonment could be imposed; and he would be subject to a period of at least three (3) years of supervised release. Defendant further understood that the possible statutory maximum sentence which could be imposed upon his conviction or adjudication of guilty on Count Twenty-Nine (29) was not more than twenty (20) years' imprisonment; a fine of $500, 000, both fine and imprisonment could be imposed, and he would be subject to a term of three (3) years of supervised release. Defendant further understood that the Court would impose a special mandatory assessment of $100.00 for each felony conviction - in this case, $200.00 - payable on or before forty (40) days from the date his guilty plea. Defendant also understood that his sentence could be increased if he had a prior firearm offense, violent felony conviction, or prior drug conviction. He also understood he might be required by the Court to pay the costs of his incarceration, supervision, and probation.

         The undersigned also informed Defendant whether he understood that by pleading guilty he was forfeiting other rights such as right to vote, right to serve on a jury, and the right to legally possess a firearm.

         Additionally, the undersigned asked Defendant whether he understood that if he were not a citizen of the United States, by pleading guilty to a felony charge he would be subject to deportation at the conclusion of any sentence; that he would be denied future entry into the United States; and that he would be denied citizenship if he ever applied for it. Defendant stated that he understood.

         The undersigned also reviewed with Defendant his waiver of appellate and collateral attack rights. Defendant understood that he was waiving his right to appeal his conviction and sentence to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on any ground whatsoever, including those grounds set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3742. Defendant further understood that under his plea agreement, he was waiving his right to challenge his conviction and sentence in any post-conviction proceeding, including any proceeding under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Defendant understood, however, that he was reserving the right to raise claims of ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct that he learned about after the plea hearing and agreed that he was unaware of any ineffective assistance of counsel or prosecutorial misconduct in his case at this time. From the foregoing, the undersigned determined that Defendant understood his appellate rights and knowingly gave up those rights pursuant to the conditions contained in the written plea agreement.

         The undersigned Magistrate Judge further examined Defendant relative to his knowledgeable and voluntary execution of the written plea bargain agreement, and determined the entry into said written plea bargain ...


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