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United States v. Meadows

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

April 2, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Sean M. Meadows, Defendant.

          Benjamin F. Langner, Melinda A. Williams, United States Attorney for Plaintiff.

          Sean M. Meadows, Federal Correctional Institution Elkton, Pro Se.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Sean M. Meadows' Pro Se Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody [Doc. No. 200] (“§ 2255 Mot.”).[1] The Government opposes Defendant's motion. (Govt.'s Response [Doc. No. 205].) For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion is denied.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Charges and Initial Sentence

         The Government filed an indictment against Defendant dated October 5, 2014 [Doc. No. 1] alleging mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and participation in a transaction involving the proceeds of fraud. The indictment alleges that from 2007 until April 2014, Defendant Meadows participated in a scheme to defraud more than 50 investors of over $10 million in assets, which Defendant used for his own personal expenses or to pay off other investors in Ponzi-type payments. [Id. at 2-3.] Many of his victims were retirees-some of whom were terminally ill. [Doc. No. 193 at 20.] Defendant pleaded guilty in a change of plea hearing held before this Court on December 10, 2014. [Doc. No. 69.]

         At that hearing, Defendant was asked a number of questions to ensure that he understood the consequences of his guilty plea. Relevant to Defendant's § 2255 Motion, he engaged in a colloquy with counsel for the Government, Benjamin Langner, regarding sentencing:

MR. LANGNER: And you understand that at this point in time, the Government is not taking any position as to whether or not you've accepted responsibility?
DEFENDANT: I do.
MR. LANGNER: . . . [T]he advisory guidelines range would be 188 to 235 months if you receive the reduction for acceptance of responsibility and 262 to 327 months if you do not receive that reduction. Do you understand that?
DEFENDANT: I do.

[Doc. No. 71 at 21.]

         In a colloquy between Defendant and his counsel Mark Larsen, Defendant further demonstrated his understanding of the nature of his potential sentencing range:

MR. LARSEN: . . . [I]f you get three levels off for acceptance of responsibility, even under our own view of how the guidelines work, you'd be looking at probably, we think, 63 to 78 months just under the guidelines. Is that right?
DEFENDANT: Yes, it is.
MR. LARSEN: So even under our own view of the guidelines, you're looking at more than five years in this case. Right?
DEFENDANT: Yes.
MR. LARSEN: And you realize that the Judge could go along with everything that [the Government] just said and, even if you do get credit for acceptance of responsibility, you're looking at 15 to 20 years on this case?
DEFENDANT: Yes.
MR. LARSEN: And [if] she doesn't give you credit for acceptance of responsibility, you're looking at 22 to 27, 28 years. Is that right?
DEFENDANT: Yes.
MR. LARSEN: You're still prepared to proceed here today, even with those numbers in mind?
DEFENDANT: I am.

[Id. at 26-27.]

         Defendant also demonstrated his understanding that by pleading guilty he had no special agreement or cooperation arrangement with the Government such that it would be recommending a downward departure in this case:

MR. LANGNER: Mr. Meadows, you understand that there is no agreement between you and the government as to your ...

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