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United States v. Dent

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

August 16, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
STEVEN DENT, Defendant/Petitioner.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING MOTION UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 2255 AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALALBILITY

          AVERN COHN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This is a criminal case. Petitioner Steven Dent, proceeding pro se, contends he is incarcerated in violation of his constitutional rights. Petitioner plead guilty under a Rule 11 agreement to conspiracy to distribute five (5) kilograms or more of cocaine, in violation to 21 U.S.C. § 846. Under the plea agreement, Petitioner waived his right to appeal his conviction or sentence, except that he preserved his right to appeal the order denying his motion to suppress. The Court sentenced Petitioner to 20 years. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the denial of his motion to suppress. United States v. Dent, 599 F. App'x 584 (6th Cir. 2015).

         Before the Court is Petitioner's motion under § 2255 petition.[1] The government contends that Petitioner's claims are defaulted and lack merit. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

         II. Background

          A.

         On March 15, 2007, Michigan State Trooper Matthew Unterbrink, stopped Petitioner on the grounds he had a defective taillight in violation of state traffic law. In reality, Petitioner had a defective running light which is not illegal. During the stop, Petitioner provided false information regarding his identity to Unterbrink and another trooper, Trooper Ben Bordner who had arrived on the scene to assist. Petitioner also tried to flee but was subsequently arrested. The troopers searched Petitioner's car and recovered a hidden duffle bag that contained thirteen (13) kilograms of cocaine. Petitioner was charged with drug trafficking by the State of Michigan, and a preliminary examination was conducted on April 2, 2007.

         On June 20, 2008, Petitioner was again stopped in Monroe County, Michigan and officers recovered, in his possession, over 500 grams of heroin. Following his arrest, Petitioner agreed to cooperate with law enforcement. Petitioner did not cooperate; he fled. Petitioner was located years later, in 2012, in Arizona living under an assumed name.

         Petitioner was then indicted for conspiracy to distribute the cocaine that was seized during the March 13, 2007 traffic stop, and conspiracy to distribute the heroin that was seized on June 20, 2008. As noted above, Petitioner plead guilty to one count of conspiracy and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

         B.

         Petitioner's motion presents nine issues:

1. Prior State drug convictions that were used to enhance his federal sentence did not qualify for federal sentencing enhancement. . .
2. Petitioner's Fourth Amendment rights were violated during the traffic stop.
3. Petitioner says that the “language of the career offender Guidelines dictates that the date of conviction, not the date of sentencing or term of incarnation, should determine whether a prior conviction ...

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