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Chaszar v. United States

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

September 27, 2019

BRANT CHASZAR, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          ENTRY DENYING MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 2255 AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE

         For the reasons explained in this Entry, Brant Chaszar’s motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 must be denied and the action dismissed with prejudice. In addition, the Court finds that a certificate of appealability should not issue.

         I. The § 2255 Motion

         A motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is the presumptive means by which a federal prisoner can challenge his conviction or sentence. See Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 343 (1974). A court may grant relief from a federal conviction or sentence pursuant to § 2255 “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.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). “Relief under this statute is available only in extraordinary situations, such as an error of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude or where a fundamental defect has occurred which results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Prewitt v. United States, 83 F.3d 812, 816 (7th Cir. 1996); Barnickel v. United States, 113 F.3d 704, 705 (7th Cir. 1997)).

         II. Factual Background

         On July 7, 2015, a grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Mr. Chaszar. United States v. Chaszar, No. 1:15-cr-00121-TWP-DML-1 (hereinafter, “Crim. Dkt.”), dkt. 12. Mr. Chaszar was charged with one count of possession with intent to distribute heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C) (Count 1); one count of carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1) (Count 2); and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count 3). On July 8, 2015, an information was filed under 21 U.S.C. § 851(a)(1) alleging that Mr. Chaszar had a prior felony conviction under Indiana state law for dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug. Crim. Dkt. 20.

         On April 4, 2017, Mr. Chaszar filed a petition to enter plea of guilty and plea agreement (“plea agreement”). Crim. Dkt. 35. In the plea agreement, Mr. Chaszar agreed to plead guilty to Count 1: carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, and, Count 2: unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in violation, in exchange for the dismissal of Count 3. Id. ¶¶ 1, 19.

         In the plea agreement, Mr. Chaszar recognized that the maximum sentence for Count 1 was thirty years’ imprisonment and the potential sentence for Count 2 was a consecutive sentence of not less than five years’ imprisonment and not more than life imprisonment. Id. at ¶ 2. He acknowledged and agreed that the Court would use its discretion to determine a sentence within the statutory range and that he could not withdraw his guilty plea if the Court imposed a sentence higher or lower than either party’s recommendation or outside the range recommended by the Sentencing Guidelines. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 5.

         Mr. Chaszar stipulated to facts establishing that he possessed heroin and heroin mixed with fentanyl with the intent to sell. He also stipulated to facts showing he possessed marijuana, a loaded .40 caliber Ruger semiautomatic handgun, and ammunition. As part of the plea agreement, he admitted that he always carried a handgun when he was selling drugs, that he was convicted in August 2008 of dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug in Marion County, and that he was convicted in February 2003 of dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug in Hamilton County. Id. at ¶ 16.

         With respect to the Sentencing Guidelines computation, Mr. Chaszar agreed that his prior convictions were felonies and that he was a career offender under the relevant portions of the Sentencing Guidelines. He acknowledged that his unadjusted base offense level for Count 1 was 34. Id. at ¶ 20.

         Finally, Mr. Chaszar acknowledged that his attorney advised him as to the accusations against him and the potential defenses available to him, that no person “made any promise or suggestion of any kind” that he would receive a lighter sentence if he pled guilty, and that he was “fully satisfied with [his] attorney’s representation during all phases” of the case. He further stated that he was pleading guilty because he was guilty of the crimes. Id. at ¶ 26.

         The Court conducted a change of plea and sentencing hearing on July 13, 2017. Crim. Dkt. 52. At the hearing, Mr. Chaszar agreed he had sufficient time to discuss the case against him with his attorney, including potential defenses, and that he was satisfied with counsel’s representations. Dkt. 13-1 at 6-7. He affirmed that he understood the penalties possible for both Count 1 and Count 2 and the Court’s discretion in determining a sentence. Id. at 5, 10-13.

         After the Court read the factual basis contained in the plea agreement, Mr. Chaszar reaffirmed its truth and declined the opportunity to change it. Id. at 17-20. The Court accepted Mr. Chaszar’s guilty plea and found it to be knowing and voluntary. Id. at 25-26.

         III. ...


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