United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division
WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.
On August 27, 2014, Craig Okeido Anderson pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. ECF Nos. 36, 37. In a November 14, 2014 letter to the Court, and at a January 13, 2015 hearing, Anderson moved to withdraw his plea. ECF No. 48. For the following reasons, Anderson's motion was denied.
From February 2012 to October 2013, Anderson "was a pimp who persuaded, induced, enticed, and coerced women" to engage in prostitution. ECF No. 37 at 9. Anderson took money from the women, provided them with drugs, and beat them. Id. at 9-12.
In August 2012, Anderson bought a semi-automatic rifle with an extended magazine, which he used until his October 3, 2013 arrest to further his prostitution activities. Id. at 10. Anderson also used the firearm to threaten a drug dealer. Id.
On January 28, 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Anderson on a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). ECF No. 1. The government sought forfeiture under 18 U.S.C. § 924(d) and 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c). Id. On March 18, 2014, Anderson was arraigned and pled not guilty. ECF No. 14.
On May 6, 2014, Anderson filed three suppression motions, and a motion for leave to amend, supplement, or withdraw additional motions. ECF Nos. 20, 21, 22, 23.
On August 5, 2014, the government filed a superseding indictment. ECF No. 30. In addition to the Felon in Possession charge, the superseding indictment added the following charges: (1) one count of inducing travel to engage in prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 2422(a); and (2) seven counts of transportation of an individual with intent to engage in prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 2421. Id.
A hearing on Anderson's suppression motions was scheduled for August 27, 2014. However, on that date, Anderson and the government entered into a written plea agreement. ECF Nos. 36, 37. Anderson pled guilty to Count Nine of the Superseding Indictment, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Id. at 1. Under Rule 11(c)(1)(C), the parties agreed to a binding recommendation of 84 months incarceration. Id. at 5.
At the arraignment, Anderson was placed under oath and pled guilty. ECF No. 55-1 at 5. Anderson swore that he had discussed the charges with his lawyers and was satisfied with their services, reviewed and signed the plea agreement, and the facts in the plea agreement were true. Id. at 9, 13-14, 19. Anderson swore that he had voluntarily pled guilty and was, in fact, guilty. Id. at 19. Finding that Anderson had knowingly and voluntarily entered the plea with advice of counsel, and there was a sufficient factual basis for the plea, the Court accepted it, and entered a guilty verdict. Id. at 19-20. Sentencing was scheduled for October 30, 2014. Id. at 20.
On October 28, 2014, the Court granted defense counsel's motion to withdraw, and vacated the upcoming sentencing. ECF No. 44. On November 4, 2014, Anderson was appointed new counsel. ECF No. 46.
On November 14, 2014, the Court received a pro se letter from Anderson, asking to withdraw his guilty plea. ECF No. 48. Anderson stated that he "relied on misstatement[s] of counsel, including falsehoods of [his] options, " that his "counsel provided erroneous and inadequate advice, " and asserted his "legal innocence." Id. at 1. On January 12, 2015, the government opposed Anderson's request. ECF No. 55.
On January 13, 2015, the Court held a hearing. Anderson asserted that his attorneys had convinced him to plead guilty, and told him to respond "yes" to the Court's questions. He repeated his "legal innocence, " and contended that he had not had sufficient time to review the plea agreement before he pled guilty, and had not been informed of his advisory sentencing guidelines range.
The government argued that Anderson should not be permitted to withdraw his guilty plea because he has not provided evidence of coercion by his former counsel, his plea agreement was for a significantly-below-guidelines sentence, he has not provided evidence of his innocence of the Felon in Possession charge to which he pled guilty, and he had delayed moving to withdraw the plea. The government also argued that, at the August 27, 2014 guilty plea, Anderson swore that his counsel had done everything he asked them to do, and he was satisfied with their services. It noted that the advantageous plea agreement that Anderson received was further evidence that Anderson had been competently represented. The government asserted that it would be substantially prejudiced by withdrawal of the guilty plea and preparations for a three-week trial. Since Anderson pled guilty, the government has lost track of key witnesses, some of whom may still be engaged in prostitution and would be difficult to locate. ...