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United States v. Walker

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

October 27, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Robert Allen Walker, Defendant-Petitioner.

          Gregory G. Brooker, United States Attorney, David J. MacLaughlin and Benjamin F. Langner, Assistant United States Attorneys, for Plaintiff-Respondent.

          Robert Allen Walker, pro se.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Defendant-Petitioner Robert Allen Walker (“Walker”) brings a pro se motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody [Doc. No. 248] (“Pro Se Mot.”). The Government opposes Walker's motion. (Government's Resp. to Def.'s Mot. under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct a Sentence [Doc. No. 255].) Based on a review of the file, record, and proceedings therein, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Walker is the former president, CEO, and chairman of the board of Bixby Energy Systems (“Bixby”). On December 20, 2011, Walker was indicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud arising from the actions he took at the head of Bixby. (Indictment [Doc. No. 1].) In superseding indictments, he was also charged with mail fraud, wire fraud, witness tampering, and tax evasion. (Third Superseding Indictment [Doc. No. 86].) At trial, the Government presented evidence that Walker induced vulnerable victims to invest with-and to remain invested with-his company by making materially false statements about his own business experience, about the imminence of Bixby going public, and about the commercial viability of Bixby's products. (See Tr. Vol. XXVII [Doc. No. 236], at 5574-77.) Walker was also charged with overpaying himself and his family members and claiming improper business expenses from the nearly $60 billion that victims invested in the company. (See Tr. Vol. XX [Doc. No. 229], at 4472, 4484-89, 4595-96.)

         In proceedings before this Court, Walker was represented by retained counsel, attorneys Aaron Morrison, Peter Wold, and Ryan Pacyga. On March 5, 2014, a jury found Walker guilty on all counts: four counts of aiding and abetting mail fraud, eight counts of aiding and abetting wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one count of witness tampering, and three counts of tax evasion. (Jury Verdict [Doc. No. 173].) Walker was sentenced to 300 months of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release. (Sentencing J. [Doc. No. 202].)

         Walker filed a direct appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the Government did not present sufficient evidence to support his conviction, and also that this Court erred in calculating the loss caused by his fraud crimes and in assessing a two-level sentence enhancement for abuse of a position of trust. United States v. Walker, 818 F.3d 416 (2016). The Eighth Circuit affirmed on March 25, 2016. Id. at 419. On March 24, 2017, Walker filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to set aside, vacate, or correct his sentence. (Pro Se Mot.)

         III. DISCUSSION

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a),

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground 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, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.

         While § 2255 generally affords relief, it is only available ...


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