United States v. Turner

Citation818 F.Supp.2d 207
Decision Date17 October 2011
Docket NumberCriminal Action No. 06–00026–01 (CKK).Civil Action No. 09–00674 (CKK).
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Respondent, v. Peter R. TURNER, Defendant/Petitioner.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

818 F.Supp.2d 207

UNITED STATES of America, Respondent,
Peter R. TURNER, Defendant/Petitioner.

Criminal Action No. 06–00026–01 (CKK).Civil Action No. 09–00674 (CKK).

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

Oct. 17, 2011.

[818 F.Supp.2d 208]

Ann C. Brickley, Daniel A. Petalas, Ethan H. Levisohn, Edward P. Sullivan, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Respondent.


Several years ago, Defendant and Petitioner Peter R. Turner (“Turner”) was convicted by a jury in this Court on one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of bribery. Presently before the Court is Turner's [137] 1 Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (“Motion to Vacate”) and the Government's [150] Opposition to Turner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence (“Opposition”). Upon a searching review, the Court finds that the parties' submissions, the relevant authorities, and the record as a whole conclusively show that Turner is not entitled to the requested relief. Accordingly, the

[818 F.Supp.2d 209]

Court shall DENY Turner's [137] Motion to Vacate.


In 1998, Turner, a volunteer driver for the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, began a romantic relationship with Vester Mayo (“Mayo”), a nurse at the Medical Center. Mayo, who had taken out a life insurance policy through a federally administered program, suffered a stroke and died in December 2000. The life insurance beneficiary designation form in her personnel file listed Turner as a co-beneficiary. Turner filed a claim for benefits and received $20,562.90. Shortly thereafter, Turner wrote a check in the amount of $1,000 to LaTanya Andrews (“Andrews”), a payroll technician at the Medical Center. Subsequently, evidence that a reasonable jury could credit would show that Mayo's signature on the beneficiary form in her personnel file had been forged, that Andrews had access to Mayo's personnel file containing the form, and that Turner had been seen forging Mayo's signature on two prior occasions.

On January 31, 2006, a federal grand jury charged Turner and Andrews with conspiracy to defraud the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and bribery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b). In July 2006, Turner and Andrews were tried in front of a jury in a four-day trial presided over by the undersigned. The jury convicted Turner on both counts. Turner moved for a judgment of acquittal, which the Court denied in a detailed opinion on October 24, 2006, finding that the Government had presented ample evidence to sustain the jury's verdict. See Mem. Op. (Oct. 24, 2006), ECF No. [64].

Following a number of extensions, Turner's sentencing proceedings began in earnest in the summer of 2007. Apart from memoranda in aid of sentencing, Turner submitted a series of submissions pertaining to his myriad medical conditions, and sentencing proceedings were continued while Turner underwent diagnostic testing and inquiries were made into the Bureau of Prison's ability to care for Turner. Each of Turner's filings included medical evidence and legal argument in an attempt to demonstrate that his age and infirmities warranted a downward departure under §§ 5H1.1 and 5H1.4 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines and that he should be sentenced to a period of home detention in lieu of incarceration. At the time of his sentencing, the record reflected that Turner suffered from the following medical conditions: asthma requiring treatment from steroids and inhalers; sleep apnea requiring the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device and oxygen at night; post-traumatic stress disorder resulting in headaches and seizures; congestive heart failure; gout and degenerative joint disease occasionally requiring treatment with narcotics; diabetes treated by medication but not fully controlled; severe peripheral neuropathy; renal failure; temporary spells of blindness; and a possible autoimmune disease such as lupus.

On September 7, 2007, the Court sentenced Turner to two concurrent thirty-three month terms of imprisonment to be followed by two years' of supervised release. In imposing this sentence, the Court recognized that Turner's many medical conditions were serious, severely limiting, and permanent, but nonetheless found the circumstances did not warrant the Court exercising its discretion to grant a downward departure based upon an “extraordinary physical impairment” under §§ 5H1.1 and 5H1.4. On September 20, 2007, the Court ordered Turner to surrender to an institution designated by the Bureau of Prisons.

On September 21, 2007, Turner appealed to the United States Court of Appeals

[818 F.Supp.2d 210]

for the District of Columbia Circuit and moved for release pending appeal. The Court of Appeals instructed Turner to present his motion to this Court in the first instance, which he did. On January 28, 2008, the Court denied Turner's motion in a detailed opinion. See United States v. Turner, 531 F.Supp.2d 123 (D.D.C.2008). Upon reviewing the considerable body of pre-and post-sentencing medical evidence and information, the Court found that the record was in accord with its prior understanding that Turner suffers from several chronic medical conditions requiring continuous evaluation and medical care, but that the record did not establish that his conditions were acute or likely to require immediate medical intervention.

On December 5, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision resolving Turner's appeal. See United States v. Turner, 548 F.3d 1094 (D.C.Cir.2008). The Court of Appeals affirmed Turner's conviction, but held that this Court erred by applying the version of the United States Sentencing Guidelines in effect at the time of sentencing and not the version in effect on the date that Turner's offenses were committed. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals remanded for purposes of resentencing.

Turner filed his Motion to Vacate on April 4, 2009. Turner has been represented by various counsel throughout this case, but his Motion to Vacate is brought pro se. The Government filed its Opposition on June 22, 2009. Thereafter, the Court and the parties proceeded to conduct resentencing proceedings, which included the preparation of an updated presentence investigation report, the exchange of sentencing memoranda, motions practice, and hearings. On September 16, 2009, the Court sentenced Turner to two concurrent terms of twenty-seven months of incarceration to be followed by two years' of supervised release.

By September 2, 2011, Turner had completed his term of incarceration and moved the Court for an early termination of his supervised release under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e). That motion remains pending and shall be resolved by the Court separately.


Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a prisoner in custody under sentence of a federal court may move the sentencing court to vacate, set aside, or correct its sentence if the prisoner believes that his 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). The circumstances under which such a motion will be granted, however, are limited in light of the premium placed on the finality of judgments and the opportunities prisoners have to raise most of their objections during trial or on direct appeal. “[T]o obtain collateral relief a prisoner must clear a significantly higher hurdle than would exist on direct appeal.” United States v. Frady, 456 U.S. 152, 166, 102 S.Ct. 1584, 71 L.Ed.2d 816 (1982). Nonetheless, “unless the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that the prisoner is entitled to no relief, the court shall ... grant a prompt hearing thereon, determine the issues, and make findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect thereto.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(b). However, the decision whether or not to hold a hearing is entrusted to the district court's discretion, particularly where, as here, the...

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2 cases
  • Parker v. United States, Crim. Action No. 12-59 (EGS)
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • August 4, 2016
    ...was adequate cannot be overcome by "vague or conclusory" allegations. Aljaff , 987 F.Supp.2d at 67 (citing United States v. Turner, 818 F.Supp.2d 207, 211 (D.D.C.2011) (quotation marks omitted)).Here, Mr. Parker does not identify what Attorney West would have uncovered or how she could have......
  • Aljaff v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • October 28, 2013
    ...and conclusory allegations” cannot overcome the “strong presumption that counsel rendered adequate assistance.” United States v. Turner, 818 F.Supp.2d 207, 211 (D.D.C.2011) (quotation marks omitted). Nor did Mr. Aljaff allege that his counsel's behavior prejudiced his defense. Even if the C......

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