United States District Court, D. Maine
RECOMMENDED DECISION ON 28 U.S.C. § 2255
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.
action, Petitioner moves, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255,
to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence. (Motion, ECF
No. 158; Supplemental Motion, ECF No. 163.) Following a jury
trial, Petitioner was convicted of aiding and abetting
transportation in interstate commerce for prostitution; the
Court sentenced Petitioner to 46 months in prison. (Judgment,
ECF No. 134; Indictment, ECF No. 7.) The First Circuit upheld
the sentence on appeal. United States v. Blanchard,
867 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2017). Petitioner asserts that the trial
court improperly instructed the jury by including two
questions on the verdict form for a single count indictment,
which, together with the jury instructions, erroneously
allowed the jury to convict Petitioner without finding that
he had the requisite knowledge and intent. The Government
seeks dismissal of the motion. (Response, ECF No. 166.)
a review of the record, and after consideration of
Petitioner's motion and the Government's request for
dismissal, I recommend the Court grant the Government's
request and dismiss Petitioner's motion.
Factual Background and Procedural History
2013, Petitioner's friend, Samuel Gravely, and
Gravely's romantic partner, Alisha Philbrook, agreed that
Philbrook would engage in prostitution. Blanchard,
867 F.3d at 3 - 4. Gravely testified that Petitioner
suggested prostitution as a means of making money.
Id. All three lived in Presque Isle, Maine.
Id. at 4.
March 2013, Gravely, Philbrook, and Petitioner travelled to
Bangor and Portland, and Philbrook made money from
prostitution during the trips. Id. On the evening of
March 27 or the morning of March 28, 2013, they traveled to
Boston, Massachusetts and were joined by two other women,
M.J. and Kaylee Howland. Id. Petitioner booked a
hotel room in Boston. Id. Howland testified that
when they were on the streets in a certain area of Boston,
Petitioner instructed Howland to watch Philbrook to learn how
to be an escort. Id. at 4 - 5.
they returned to the hotel, Howland gathered her belongings
and, in tears, told the front desk staff of the hotel that
she wanted to return to Maine. Id. at 5. The hotel
staff put her in a back room and called the police.
Id. The police took Philbrook and Howland to the
police station, along with M.J., who had apparently returned
to the hotel room. Id. Gravely was permitted to
leave, and after Gravely found Blanchard, they returned to
Maine. Id. Petitioner testified that he wanted to
travel to Boston for unrelated reasons, that he only joined
the group as a means of transportation, and that he did not
intend for anyone to engage in prostitution. Id. at
4 - 5 n.2; (see also Motion at 11 - 13.)
January 15, 2014, a grand jury indicted Petitioner on one
count of transporting individuals in interstate commerce with
the intent that they engage in prostitution, and that he
aided and abetted the same, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§§ 2421 and 2. (Indictment, ECF No. 7.) A jury
trial was held from August 25, 2014, to August 28, 2014.
(Minute Entries, ECF Nos. 89 - 98.) On the final day of
trial, the Court instructed the jury, in relevant part:
Mr. Blanchard is charged with knowing transportation of
individuals in interstate commerce with the intent that they
engage in prostitution and also aiding and abetting the same.
. . .
For you to find Mr. Blanchard guilty of this charge, the
Government must prove each of the following things beyond a
reasonable doubt: First, that Mr. Blanchard knowingly
transported an individual in interstate commerce; and second,
that at the time of such transportation Mr. Blanchard
intended the individual he transported would engage in
prostitution. . . .
In addition to charging that Mr. Blanchard knowingly
transported individuals in interstate commerce with the
intent that they engage in prostitution, the indictment also
charges that Mr. Blanchard aided and abetted in the same.
Even though the indictment charges that he both committed the
crime and aided and abetted the crime, you need not find that
he did both. If you determine that the Government has proven
beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Blanchard transported
individuals in interstate commerce for prostitution and/or
that he aided and abetted someone else in transporting
individuals in interstate commerce for the purposes of
prostitution, you may return a verdict of guilty.
To aid and abet means to intentionally help someone else
commit the charged crime. To establish aiding and abetting,
the Government must prove the following beyond a reasonable
doubt: First, that someone else committed the crime of
transportation of individuals in interstate commerce for
prostitution; and second, that at the time someone else
committed the crime Mr. Blanchard consciously shared the
other person's knowledge of that crime, intended to help
the other person commit that crime, and took part in the
endeavor, seeking to make it succeed. Mr. Blanchard need not
actually transport individuals for prostitution himself, be
present when they are transported, or be aware of the details
of the transportation to be guilty of aiding and abetting. On
the other hand, a general suspicion that an unlawful act may
occur or that something criminal is happening is not enough.
Mere presence at the scene of the crime and knowledge that
the crime is being committed are also not sufficient to
establish aiding and abetting, but you may consider these
among other factors.
(Trial Day 3 Transcript 18:2 - 21:20, ECF No. 145.)
Verdict Form contained the heading: “COUNT 1: KNOWING
TRANSPORTATION OF PERSONS IN INTERSTATE COMMERCE FOR THE
PURPOSE OF PROSTITUTION AND/OR AIDING AND ABETTING THE
SAME[.]” (ECF No. ...