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United States v. Bass

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

February 24, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
Gerald Bass, Defendant/Petitioner. Civil No. 16-13559

          OPINION & ORDER DENYING MOTION UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 2255

          SEAN F. COX U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This is a habeas petition made pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Petitioner Gerald Bass (“Bass”) filed his habeas petition acting pro se, asserting that he is entitled to relief from his convictions and sentences for identity theft and other financial crimes, based on the ineffective assistance of his trial and appellate counsel. Specifically, Bass's motion argues that his trial counsel was ineffective because counsel failed to object to testimony about hundreds of “medical profiles” that this Court suppressed prior to trial and failed to negotiate a more favorable plea offer with the Government. Bass also argues that his subsequent counsel failed to sufficiently argue sentencing disparities and failed to raise an argument on appeal. The motion was fully briefed by the parties. Because the files and records of the case conclusively show that Bass is entitled to no relief as to the claims in this § 2255 motion, an evidentiary hearing is not necessary and the matter is ripe for a decision by this Court. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the motion and declines to issue a certificate of appealability.

         BACKGROUND

         Bass, along with several Co-Defendants, including Defendant Isaiah Price (“Price”), was charged with committing identity theft and other financial crimes.

         Bass was originally represented by attorney Rita Chastang, and then and attorney Edward Wishnow. At Bass's request, Mr. Wishnow filed a motion to withdraw because Bass desired a new attorney. This Court granted that motion and a new attorney, Anthony Chambers, was appointed to represent Bass.

         During pretrial proceedings, Bass's Counsel (Mr. Chambers) filed a Motion to Suppress, which this Court granted in part and denied in part. The Court granted the motion to the extent that the Court suppressed certain evidence found during the execution of a search warrant on Ilene Street in Detroit, Michigan on November 2, 2011. (See D.E. No. 79). Among the evidence suppressed were multiple documents that had been generically identified in the Incident Report/Inventory as “victim profile sheets.” or “victim profiles.” (Id. at Pg ID 393). The Motion to Suppress was denied in all other respects.

         This Court held the Final Pretrial / Plea Cutoff Conference as to Bass on June 25, 2012. (See Docket Entry No. 190, 6/25/12 Tr.). At that time, the Government noted on the record the offer that it had made to Bass, and Bass rejected that offer:

THE COURT: This is the final pretrial, plea cut-ff date. Has the government made an offer?
MS. OBERG: We did make an offer, Your Honor.
We offered Mr. Bass the opportunity to plead to Count One, the conspiracy count. And the guidelines, because his criminal history is a category six, the guidelines were, with acceptance of responsibility, 84 to 105 months, and 24-month additional sentence consecutive to that, because of the aggravated felony.
So it was Count One and Count Five; aggravated identity theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
THE COURT: Mr. Chambers, did you get that offer and were you able to discuss it with your client?
MR. CHAMBERS: Yes, I have, Your Honor.
THE COURT: And what is your client's position?
MR. CHAMBERS: Sir, are you interested in the Rule 11 Plea Agreement?
DEFENDANT BASS: No, not at this time.
THE COURT: Well, this is the time.
DEFENDANT BASS: No.
THE COURT: Is that a no?
DEFENDANT BASS: No.

(Id.).

         After rejecting the Government's plea offer, Bass ultimately proceeded to a jury trial and was the only defendant that did so. Mr. Chambers represented Bass at trial.

         Bass's Co-Defendant Price testified at Bass's trial. Among other things, the Government elicited testimony from Price regarding how Bass possessed and used various “profiles” to perpetrate his fraudulent scheme:

Q. Now, you just described to the jury the conduct that led up to your guilty plea. When did you start working with Mr. Bass on these credit accounts?
A. I started working with Mr. Bass roughly around September, the beginning of September.
Q. Of what year, sir?
A. Of 2011.
Q. And could you please describe how that started? How did you first start ...

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