United States v. Shavers, s. 10–2790

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtCHAGARES
Citation693 F.3d 363
PartiesUNITED STATES of America v. Glorious SHAVERS, a/k/a G, a/k/a G–Bucks, a/k/a Julious Colzie, a/k/a Glorious Grand Glorious Shavers, Appellant. United States of America v. Jermel Lewis, a/k/a Star, a/k/a PR–Star, a/k/a P Jermel Lewis, Appellant. United States of America v. Andrew White, Appellant.
Docket Number10–2931,Nos. 10–2790,10–2971.,s. 10–2790
Decision Date27 August 2012

693 F.3d 363

Glorious SHAVERS, a/k/a G, a/k/a G–Bucks, a/k/a Julious Colzie, a/k/a Glorious Grand
Glorious Shavers, Appellant.

United States of America
Jermel Lewis, a/k/a Star, a/k/a PR–Star, a/k/a P
Jermel Lewis, Appellant.

United States of America
Andrew White, Appellant.

Nos. 10–2790, 10–2931, 10–2971.

United States Court of Appeals,
Third Circuit.

Argued March 19, 2012.
Filed: Aug. 27, 2012.

[693 F.3d 368]

Keith M. Donoghue, Esq. (Argued), Robert Epstein, Esq., Kai N. Scott, Esq., Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,

[693 F.3d 369]

PA, for Appellant Glorious Shavers.

Paul J. Hetznecker, Esq. (Argued), Philadelphia, PA, for Appellant Jermel Lewis.

Carina Laguzzi, Esq., Laguzzi & Associates, Philadelphia, PA, for Appellant Andrew White.

Robert A. Zauzmer, Esq. (Argued), Arlene D. Fisk, Esq., Office of United States Attorney, Philadelphia, PA, for Appellee.

Before: RENDELL, FISHER, and CHAGARES, Circuit Judges.


CHAGARES, Circuit Judge.

This is a consolidated appeal by three codefendants, Glorious Shavers, Andrew White, and Jermel Lewis (collectively referred to as the “appellants”), who were convicted of robbery affecting interstate commerce, conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce, witness tampering, and using and carrying firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence. We will vacate Shavers's and White's witness tampering convictions and Shavers's eight-year term of supervised release. We will uphold the three appellants' convictions on all other counts and will affirm Lewis's sentence. Finally, we will remand for the District Court to resentence Shavers and White in accordance with this opinion.


This case arose out of a robbery on November 8, 2005 at a single-family house in North Philadelphia. The house owner, Jeanette Ketchmore (“Jeanette”), had for several years run an unlicensed bar, or “speakeasy,” out of her basement. At trial, she described her activity as a party at which family, friends, and acquaintances would socialize and occasionally play cards. The speakeasy was not open to the general public. Jeanette purchased alcohol at a retail store in Philadelphia and sold it without a license to her guests for $3–$4 per drink. The brands of alcohol sold included some that are manufactured outside of Pennsylvania such as Hennessy cognac, Gordon's gin, Seagram's gin, and Taylor's port wine.

When the appellants entered Jeanette's house on November 8, 2005 at 5:30 a.m., six to seven people were in the first floor dining room playing cards. The parties dispute whether alcohol sales had ceased for the night. The three appellants entered the residence displaying firearms and wearing dark-colored hooded sweatshirts with the hoods drawn tightly around their faces. The appellants forced the patrons into the basement and ordered them to lie down on the floor. One of the appellants went to the second floor and forced Jeanette's son, Rickey Ketchmore (“Rickey”), to come downstairs to join the patrons. The appellants then went through everyone's pockets and stole two cell phones, a wallet, and approximately $121 in cash. No money was stolen directly from Jeanette, however. The appellants also rummaged through the basement and first floor of the house. Jeanette testified that the appellants went through her refrigerator and kept asking where the “weed” (marijuana), “wet” (PCP), and “oil” (heroin or PCP) was.1 Joint Appendix (“JA”) 1168–69, 1217. They also asked Jeanette where “the money” was. Id. at 1167.

When the police arrived, the three appellants ran out of the house and down the

[693 F.3d 370]

street. White was seen tossing a silver gun as he ran. White and Shavers were arrested in the area soon thereafter. White had two cell phones that were stolen from the speakeasy patrons and $49 in cash, including twenty-nine one-dollar bills. Shavers had three live shotgun shells in his pocket and $87 in cash, including sixty-two one-dollar bills. After the police apprehended Shavers and White, they returned to Jeanette's house and asked eyewitnesses Alberto Vasquez and Brian Anderson whether they recognized the two men sitting in the police vehicles. Vasquez and Anderson identified Shavers and White as two of the three assailants. Lewis was apprehended years later after an investigation.

Shavers and White were originally charged with Pennsylvania offenses and kept in state custody. On March 20, 2008, however, the United States Attorney charged them with robbery affecting interstate commerce, in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1951(a) and 2, and using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c) and 2.2 On July 10, 2008, a superseding indictment added Lewis to the first two counts, and also added charges against all three appellants of attempts to intimidate, threaten, and/or corruptly persuade a witness in an official proceeding, in violation of the Victim and Witness Protection Act of 1982, 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1). The witness intimidation charges were largely based on telephone calls that the appellants conducted on state prison telephones in which they made incriminating comments. On August 20, 2009, the Government filed a second superseding indictment adding additional witness tampering counts and a count of conspiracy to commit robbery in violation of the Hobbs Act against all three appellants.

A joint trial of the three appellants commenced on September 9, 2009 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. After six days of testimony, the jury found all three appellants guilty of the Hobbs Act and § 924(c) violations, and found Shavers and White guilty of three counts of witness tampering each. Lewis was acquitted of all witness tampering charges. After denying the appellants' motions for judgments of acquittal, the District Court sentenced Shavers to 144 months of incarceration with an eight-year term of supervised release, Lewis to 141 months of incarceration with five years of supervised release, and White to 196 months of incarceration with five years of supervised release. All three sentences included a mandatory minimum consecutive term of eighty-four months on the § 924(c) count. The appellants filed a timely appeal raising ten arguments that we will address in turn.3

II. The Hobbs Act Convictions

Shavers and White first contend that the District Court erroneously instructed the jury that a robbery need only have a de minimis or potential effect on interstate commerce in order to violate the Hobbs Act. While the appellants acknowledge that our controlling precedent forecloses relief on this claim, they seek to preserve it for future review.

[693 F.3d 371]

We exercise plenary review over a challenge to the legal accuracy of jury instructions. Armstrong v. Burdette Tomlin Mem'l Hosp., 438 F.3d 240, 245 (3d Cir.2006). The Hobbs Act provides:

Whoever in any way or degree obstructs, delays, or affects commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or attempts or conspires so to do, or commits or threatens physical violence to any person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose to do anything in violation of this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

18 U.S.C. § 1951(a). “Commerce” is defined as

commerce within the District of Columbia, or any Territory or Possession of the United States; all commerce between any point in a State, Territory, Possession, or the District of Columbia and any point outside thereof; all commerce between points within the same State through any place outside such State; and all other commerce over which the United States has jurisdiction.

Id. § 1951(b)(3).

Due to the requirement that a Hobbs Act offense “obstructs, delays, or affects” interstate commerce, “the reach of the Hobbs Act is coextensive with that of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.” United States v. Walker, 657 F.3d 160, 179 (3d Cir.2011) (quotation marks omitted). The Commerce Clause delegates to Congress the power “[t]o regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.” U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3. In United States v. Lopez, which involved a challenge to the Gun–Free School Zones Act of 1990, 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)(A), the United States Supreme Court held that there are “three broad categories of activity” that Congress may regulate under the Commerce Clause: (1) “the use of the channels of interstate commerce[;]” (2) “the instrumentalities of interstate commerce, or persons or things in interstate commerce, even though the threat may come only from intrastate activities[;]” and (3) “those activities having a substantial relation to interstate commerce.” 514 U.S. 549, 558–59, 115 S.Ct. 1624, 131 L.Ed.2d 626 (1995). The Lopez Court concluded that the possession of a gun in a local school zone did not fall into any of those categories. In particular, the regulated activity did not have a substantial relation to interstate commerce because “[t]he possession of a gun in a local school zone is in no sense an economic activity that might, through repetition elsewhere, substantially affect any sort of interstate commerce.” Id. at 567, 115 S.Ct. 1624.

The District Court in this case instructed the jury on the interstate commerce element as follows:

The third element that the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the Defendant's conduct affected or could have affected interstate commerce. Conduct affects interstate commerce if it in any way interferes with [,] changes, alters the movement or transportation or flow of goods, merchandise, money or other property in commerce between or among the states. The effect can be minimal.

It is not necessary to prove that the Defendant intended to obstruct ... delay or interfere [with]...

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