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United States v. Guzzardo

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

May 24, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
BRENT M. GUZZARDO

         SECTION I

          ORDER & REASONS

          LANCE M. AFRICK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is pro se petitioner Brent M. Guzzardo's (“Guzzardo”) motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.[1] For the following reasons, the motion is denied.

         I.

         On February 25, 2014, a Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's department narcotics detective, through a confidential source, conducted an undercover purchase of methamphetamine from Guzzardo.[2] The purchase took place at Guzzardo's residence and was recorded via a camera worn by the confidential source.[3] At the time of the purchase, the confidential source noticed a revolver on the desk where Guzzardo was weighing the methamphetamine.[4] Two days later, the confidential source met Guzzardo at a daiquiri shop in Amite, Louisiana and again purchased methamphetamine from him.[5] This transaction was also recorded via a camera worn by the confidential source.[6] Following the two sales, the confidential source reported threats made against him by Guzzardo and indicated his belief that Guzzardo suspected his involvement with law enforcement.[7]

         On March 12 2014, the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's department and a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) task force executed a state authorized search warrant at Guzzardo's residence and business.[8] As law enforcement entered Guzzardo's residence, Guzzardo attempted to throw out two baggies of methamphetamine.[9]Agents also observed a large chunk of methamphetamine in the bedroom.[10] Agents recovered a digital scale, United States currency, and a loaded revolver.[11]

         Guzzardo later admitted that the methamphetamine belonged to him, and that he was distributing the drug in gram quantities.[12] He also admitted that the weapon belonged to him, and that he possessed it for protection.[13] Additionally, he stated that he had just conducted a sale to an individual prior to the agents' arrival at his residence.[14]

         Guzzardo was indicted by a grand jury and charged with four counts of various drug and firearm offenses.[15] In March 2015, Guzzardo pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), and one count of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C).[16] In June 2015, Chief Judge Engelhardt sentenced Guzzardo to a term of imprisonment of 46 months as to the drug offense and 60 months as to the firearm offense, to be served consecutively.[17]

         Guzzardo did not file a direct appeal. He now seeks collateral review of his sentence. The government does not challenge the timeliness of his motion.

         II.

         Guzzardo argues that recent Supreme Court precedent entitles him to relief.[18]Specifically, Guzzardo cites Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), which held that “imposing an increased sentence under the residual clause of the Armed Career Criminal Act [ACCA] violates the Constitution's guarantee of due process, ” and Welch v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 1257 (2016), which held that Johnson applies retroactively to cases on collateral review.

         A.

         At the outset, the Court notes that Guzzardo appears to have waived his right to pursue collateral review of his sentence.[19] Notwithstanding, the Court concludes that Johnson and Welch would have no effect in this case. After all, Guzzardo's sentence was not enhanced under the residual clause that Johnson invalidated. At issue in Johnson was 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), the residual clause of the ACCA, which defined the term “violent felony” to include “conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” Johnson, 135 S.Ct. at 2555-56. The Supreme Court determined that this language was too imprecise, such that it “denie[d] fair notice to defendants and invite[d] arbitrary enforcement by judges.” Id. at 2557. Accordingly, it held the clause to be unconstitutionally vague.

         This holding, however, has no bearing on the present case. Guzzardo pleaded guilty under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.[20] The Court sentenced Guzzardo to 60 months with respect to this firearm offense, but at no point did it rely on the ACCA's residual clause. Hence, ...


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