United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division
H. Sharp, Chief Judge United States District Court
memorandum reflects the Court's analysis underlying its
recent Order overruling Movant's objection to the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation and denying
Movant's motion to vacate, set aside or correct his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Docket No. 54.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
magistrate judge issues a report and recommendation regarding
a dispositive matter, the district court must review de
novo any portion of the report and recommendation to
which a specific objection is made, and “may accept,
reject, or modify the recommended disposition; receive
further evidence; or return the matter to the magistrate
judge with instructions.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(C); United States v. Curtis, 237
F.3d 598, 603 (6th Cir. 2001); Massey v. City of
Ferndale, 7 F.3d 506, 510 (6th Cir. 1993). Federal
courts have routinely deemed objections “waived”
where the objections merely restate the party's arguments
that were previously addressed by the magistrate judge.
See VanDiver v. Martin, 304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D.
Mich. 2004) (“An ‘objection' that does
nothing more than state a disagreement with a
magistrate's suggested resolution, or simply summarizes
what has been presented before, is not an
‘objection' as that term is used in this
context.”); see also Charles v. Astrue, No.
3:10-cv-134, 2011 WL 3206464 (E.D. Tenn. July 28, 2011).
February 3, 2012, Movant entered an open plea of guilty to
one count of obstruction of justice, which was accepted by
the Honorable William J. Haynes, Jr. Order Accepting Plea
Petition, USA v. John Patrick Edwards, No.
3:11-cr-00083 (M.D. Tenn. Feb. 3, 2012), ECF No. 258;
Transcript of Proceedings-Plea, id., (M.D. Tenn.
Aug. 23, 2012), ECF No. 418 (hereinafter “Plea
Tr.”). The government's summary of the facts
underlying the charge to which Movant pleaded guilty was as
If this case were to go to trial, the United States would
prove the following facts.
As alleged in Count Two of the indictment, beginning on or
about April 4, 2011 through April 18, 2011, in the Middle
District of Tennessee and elsewhere, John Edwards, aided and
abetted by codefendant Rodney Mark Settles, did corruptly
obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding and
attempted to do so through the solicitation of money in
exchange for information relating to the federal criminal
investigation which resulted in the charge in Count One in
the pending indictment of this case, in violation of Title
18, United States Code, Sections 1512(c)(2)(n)(2).
Specifically, on April 6, 2011, the FBI received information
that Edwards' codefendant in Count Two of the indictment,
Rodney Mark Settles, who was not a law enforcement officer,
had detailed information about an ongoing federal criminal
narcotics investigation that involved federal wiretaps.
Settles had indicated he had obtained this information from
an associate of his who was in law enforcement. Further,
Settles stated that something was about to happen that would
bring the investigation to a conclusion, and that he and his
associate were willing to provide information about the
investigation so it could be passed on to the lead defendant
in Count One of the indictment, codefendant Zeeshan Syed,
was one of the targets of the federal investigation.
Settles stated that they would help Syed get out of trouble
in exchange for a couple hundred thousand dollars. The
federal investigation to which he was referring to was being
conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was an official
proceeding as defined in Title 18, United States Code,
Section 1512(f)(1) and 1515.
The defendant had been a lieutenant with the Wilson County
Sheriff's Department, and had been assigned to the Wilson
County Drug Task Force, and had served as an FBI Task Force
officer on that federal investigation.
In March 2011, the defendant was removed from his position as
a Task Force officer and suspended from the Wilson County
Sheriff's Department following his arrest by the
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on an unrelated matter.
Prior to being removed from his position, the defendant had
worked on the federal narcotics investigation for several
months. Through his work on that investigation, the defendant
knew numerous crucial details of the investigation, including
that it involved several federal wiretaps and the identities
of several target subjects, including Zeeshan Syed and
several of Syed's co-conspirators.
The defendant knew that the conspiracy being investigated was
a conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine and marijuana
in the Nashville area. Additionally, the defendant also knew
the identity of a confidential informant involved in the
investigation who had a close relationship with Syed and had
been providing information about the conspiracy to the FBI
since the summer of 2010.
Based upon the information the FBI received about Settles on
April 6, 2011, the FBI immediately began investigating Mr.
Settles. For the next several days, the FBI was able to
obtain evidence against Settles which demonstrated that
Settles and Settles' source of information, who was later
determined to be the defendant, were attempting to obstruct
the ongoing federal investigation.
On April 11, 2001, Settles was detained for questioning by
FBI agents and Task Force officers and was transported to the
FBI office in Nashville. At the FBI office, Settles agreed to
be interviewed and provide information about the
defendant's plan to sell information to a member of the
narcotics conspiracy. Settles advised the FBI that the
information he had about the investigation came from his
friend and business partner, John Edwards.
According to Settles, on or about April 4, 2011, the
defendant contacted Settles about an idea to help get him
some money. The defendant knew Settles had a contact, Noo
Zeeshan Syed, who was the subject of a federal narcotics
The defendant asked Settles to see if Syed would pay for
information about the investigation. The defendant provided
detailed information to Settles about the investigation that
the defendant thought could help Syed. The defendant told
Settles he wanted to trade that information about the federal
investigation for $500, 000.
The defendant had given the name of the informant to Settles
-- excuse me, had given the name of an informant to Settles,
and Settles had provided the name of that informant to
Syed's contact. Settles also told the FBI that, while the
defendant initially told Settles he wanted $500, 000 for
information about the federal narcotics investigation,
Settles had only asked for $100, 000 for that information.
When Settles later told the defendant that Syed was only
willing to pay $100, 000 instead of the $500, 000 the
defendant initially wanted for the information, the defendant
responded that he also wanted a late model Range Rover in
addition to the $100, 000 payment.
Due to his involvement in the federal narcotics
investigation, the defendant knew Syed was also in the
business of selling used cars. Syed advised the agents that
the defendant had directed Settles that the money from Syed
was to be left in a safe at Bidmore Auction, an ...