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United States v. Harrison

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

January 22, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
EMANUEL JAMES HARRISON, also known as E. J., also known as Chris, Defendant - Appellant

Page 228

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

For UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee: Amanda R. Burch, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas, Lubbock, TX; James Wesley Hendrix, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Brian Daniel Poe, Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas, Dallas, TX.

For EMANUEL JAMES HARRISON, also known as E. J., also known as Chris, Defendant - Appellant: Alexander Lee Calhoun, Austin, TX.

Before HIGGINBOTHAM, SMITH, and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 229

PATRICK E. HIGGINBOTHAM, Circuit Judge:

Emanuel James Harrison pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to one count of conspiracy to file false claims. The district court denied Harrison's motion to withdraw his guilty plea without an evidentiary hearing. He was sentenced to eighty-four months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Harrison appeals, challenging only the district court's refusal to hold an evidentiary hearing on his withdrawal motion. We AFFIRM.

I.

A grand jury charged Harrison in a multi-count, multi-defendant[1] indictment with conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (" IRS" ) by filing false claims and with two counts of filing a false claim.[2] Three days before his trial was set to begin, Harrison signed a plea agreement

Page 230

in which he agreed to plead guilty to the conspiracy charge.[3] In exchange, the government agreed to dismiss the remaining charges. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), the parties agreed to a sentence of eighty-four months, which was twenty-four months below the statutory minimum as calculated based on Harrison's offense level and criminal history category. Harrison also agreed to waive his right to appeal his conviction and sentence, but he expressly reserved the right to challenge the voluntariness of his guilty plea or waiver of appeal and the right to bring a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.[4]

Although Harrison's codefendants signed identical plea agreements, Harrison's plea agreement did not mention Harrison's codefendants, nor did it state a condition tat each codefendant had to accept the same plea agreement before the government would agree to any of the plea agreements. Harrison also signed a plea agreement supplement indicating that there were no additional terms to his plea agreement.[5] Counsel for Harrison signed both the plea agreement and the plea agreement supplement. Counsel also signed a statement appended to each document indicating that he had " carefully reviewed every part" of the document with Harrison and that, to his knowledge and belief, Harrison's decision to sign each document was informed and voluntary.

Harrison also signed a " factual resume" --a statement on the record providing a factual basis for his guilty plea.[6] He agreed that, beginning in 2007, he and several of his codefendants opened and operated a tax preparation business called " Tax on the Run" (" TOTR" ). He admitted that, " [b]eginning in or about March [ ] 2009," he and others knowingly conspired to use TOTR to file false tax returns in the names of numerous clients that " overstated and fabricated income and tax deductions . . . by falsely representing [to the IRS] that the taxpayers were entitled . . . to claim a tax credit as a first-time home buyer." [7] Harrison further admitted that, once a taxpayer-client obtained an advanced refund check, the conspirators would transport the taxpayer-client to a local check cashing business and instruct the taxpayer-client to cash the refund check. ...


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