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United States v. Barnes

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 10, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ROBERTA BARNES, Defendant.

          Benjamin F. Langner, Assistant United States Attorney, for plaintiff.

          Roberta Barnes, pro se defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM Chief Judge United States District Court

         On February 13, 2017, Defendant Roberta Barnes filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 seeking to modify her sentence, arguing that the Court improperly enhanced her base offense level at the time of sentencing. Because the claim is neither factually nor legally supported, the Court will deny the § 2255 motion.

         BACKGROUND

         On December 15, 2014, Defendant Roberta Barnes pled guilty to one count of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. (Ct. Mins. - Criminal, Dec. 15, 2014, Docket No. 12; Felony Information at 9-10, July 10, 2014, Docket No. 1.) On August 18, 2016, the probation department issued a presentence investigation report (“PSR”) indicating that Barnes's offense caused a loss exceeding $250, 000 but less than $550, 000, and recommending a twelve-level increase to her base offense level pursuant to U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual (the “Guidelines”) § 2B1.1(b)(1)(G) (U.S. Sentencing Comm'n 2015). (Revised PSR ¶ 42, Aug. 18, 2016, Docket No. 40.)

         On August 24, 2016, the Court held a sentencing hearing, at which defense counsel did not object to the PSR. (Sentencing Tr. at 3:5-7, Feb. 28, 2017, Docket No. 60). The Court then adopted the PSR's factual finding that Barnes's offense caused a loss exceeding $250, 000 but less than $550, 000 and thus applied the twelve-level enhancement to her base offense level. (Id. at 3:11-17; Revised PSR ¶ 42.)

         The Court sentenced Barnes to twelve months and one day of incarceration - a downward variance from the Guidelines range of twenty-one to twenty-seven months. (Sentencing Tr. at 3:21-22, 15:13-15; see also Sentencing J., Aug. 28, 2016, Docket No. 49.) Barnes did not file a direct appeal. On February 13, 2017, the Court amended the sentencing judgment to specify the total restitution amount of $484, 220. (Am. Sentencing J. at 1, 5, Feb. 13, 2017, Docket No. 54.)[1]

         Also on February 13, 2017, Barnes filed a pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to § 2255, in which she asserts that the Court should not have applied the twelve-level enhancement to her base offense level at sentencing or entered judgment for the specified amount of restitution because the government did not prove the total loss amount by the preponderance of the evidence to a jury. (See Pro Se Mot. to Vacate at 1, 3, 6, Feb. 13, 2017, Docket No. 55.)

         DISCUSSION

         I. SECTION 2255

         Section 2255(a) permits a prisoner to move the court that sentenced her to “vacate, set aside or correct the sentence” on the grounds that “the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence, or that the sentence was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack.” Such relief “is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and for a narrow range of injuries that could not have been raised on direct appeal and, if uncorrected, would result in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Walking Eagle v. United States, 742 F.3d 1079, 1081-82 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting United States v. Apfel, 97 F.3d 1074, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996)).

         II. BARNES'S CLAIM

         Barnes avers the Court improperly enhanced her base offense level because the government did not prove to a jury that the offense caused a loss ...


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