United States v. Wheeler, No. 16-3435 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Wheeler pleaded guilty to an attempt to commit Hobbs Act robbery, 18 U.S.C. 1951(a)), and to discharging a gun during that crime, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A)(iii). The plea did not reserve any issue for appeal. The court sentenced him to 108 months for the Hobbs Act offense and the required consecutive 120 months for the firearms offense. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting Wheeler’s argument that attempted robbery is not a “crime of violence” because an attempt to rob a retail establishment does not have the use of physical force as an element and the residual clause is unconstitutionally vague. Whether attempted Hobbs Act robbery satisfies the elements clause in section 924(c) is a statutory issue; an unconditional guilty plea waives any contention that an indictment fails to state an offense. The court also rejected Wheeler’s argument that he should be resentenced in light of a 2017 Supreme Court holding that 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(D)(ii), which requires a sentence under section 924(c) to run consecutively to the sentence for the offense in which the firearm was used, does not forbid the court to choose a term of imprisonment for the predicate offense so that the aggregate imprisonment comports with 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing criteria.