Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Hoffman

October 30, 2009

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MARCELLAS HOFFMAN



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Robert F. Kelly, Sr. J.

MEMORANDUM

Presently before this Court is Petitioner, Marcellas Hoffman's ("Hoffman"), pro se Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 ("§ 2255 Motion"). For the reasons set forth below, this Motion is denied.

I. BACKGROUND

On April 18, 2001, Hoffman was indicted on a five-count indictment which included the following charges: (1) Count 1- conspiracy, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846; (2) Count 2- carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug felony, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c); (3) Count 3- brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a drug felony, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c); (4) Count 4-discharging a firearm during and in relation to a drug felony, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c); and (5) Count 5- felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g). Hoffman pled not guilty to all charges and the case was scheduled for trial.

Hoffman's trial began on February 25, 2002, and this Court conducted a Rule 404(b) evidentiary hearing as to whether the Government should be able to introduce evidence of Hoffman's prior drug transactions with one of the Government's witnesses, Juan Rosado ("Rosado"). This Court denied the Government's motion and precluded the Government from specifically making reference to Hoffman's prior drug deals with Rosado, as those events were not part of the present indictment. On the second day of trial, this Court determined that the Government's questioning of Rosado allowed jurors to infer that Rosado had previously sold drugs to Hoffman, in violation of our ruling excluding this evidence from trial. We, therefore, granted Hoffman's motion for a mistrial.

On March 6, 2003, the federal grand jury returned a Second Superseding Indictment against Hoffman charging him with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 100 grams of heroin and in excess of 500 grams of cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846 (Count One); attempting to possess with intent to distribute in excess of 100 grams, that is approximately 390 grams of heroin, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846 (Count Two); use and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1)(A) (Count Three); conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951(b)(1) and (b)(3) (Count Four); using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c) (Count Five); and felon-in-possession of a firearm, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 922(g) and 924(e) (Count Six).

The retrial was held from October 7 through October 10, 2003, and Hoffman was convicted on all counts. The evidence at trial established that Rosado ran a multi-million dollar drug organization distributing cocaine and heroin in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.

Hoffman was one of Rosado's distributors. Hoffman began purchasing heroin and cocaine from Rosado in the summer of 2000. At the first drug sale, Hoffman bought 250 grams of cocaine for $7,000, paying cash for half the drugs and taking the other half on consignment. A few days later Hoffman told Rosado that he had "finished with the drugs" and that he wished to purchase more. (N.T. Oct. 7, 2003 at 58.) At this second meeting, Hoffman brought the $3,500 due for the drugs he had purchased on consignment and an additional $7,000 to buy more drugs. At a later meeting, Hoffman informed Rosado that "he could get rid of a truckload of drugs in Virginia and that he just needed somebody that could supply him with good quantities and good price." (Id. at 59.) Hoffman thereafter bought narcotics from Rosado on many occasions for sale in Virginia. In early 2001, Hoffman decided to rob Rosado and enlisted the help of a former co- worker, Gary Oliver ("Oliver"). Hoffman telephoned Rosado and told him that he was coming to Philadelphia with $30,000 to purchase 500 grams of heroin and a kilogram of cocaine. Oliver testified that on the morning of January 20, 2001, he drove to Hoffman's house to pick him up and that when Hoffman came out of his house he was carrying a "bag with a couple of handguns in it and one of the butts of the guns was hanging out." (N.T. Oct. 10, 2003 at 10.) The two men then drove to Camden, New Jersey where they met Hoffman's cousin, Gary McGahee ("McGahee), also known as "Casbah." The three men then drove to meet Rosado at Porky's Point restaurant.

Rosado picked up 390 grams of heroin for Hoffman, but not the cocaine requested because he had decided he was not ready "to do any more business with [Hoffman]." (N.T. Oct. 7, 2003 at 61.) Rosado decided to meet Hoffman at 5911 Frontenac Street, Rosado's stash house. That evening, Rosado put the heroin in his truck and drove with his wife and mother-in- law to the Frontenac Street house. He sent David Vasquez ("Vasquez"), one of his employees, to meet Hoffman at Porky's Point and bring him back to the Frontenac Street house.

Vasquez did so and told Hoffman, Oliver, and McGahee to follow him to Frontenac Street. After arriving there, Hoffman gave one gun to Oliver, one to McGahee, and kept one for himself. Hoffman and Oliver followed Vasquez into the house while McGahee waited outside. Rosado had not yet arrived. Once inside, Hoffman gave Vasquez only $16,000, not the agreed upon $30,000. After Vasquez demanded the remaining $14,000, Hoffman and Oliver pointed their guns at Vasquez, and Hoffman handcuffed him and demanded to know where the drugs and money were located. Vasquez answered that Rosado was bringing the drugs, and he was then thrown on the floor and pistol-whipped by Hoffman, who shot him in the leg.

When Rosado arrived, he met Hoffman and they went to the second floor where Hoffman pointed a gun at Rosado, showed him a badge, told him he was under arrest, and handcuffed him. Hoffman then demanded the drugs. Rosado told him the drugs were in the truck and that he would get them. Before they went to the truck, Hoffman searched Rosado and took $1,000 in cash, his credit cards, and his license. At some point during this time, Hoffman also took 800 to 900 grams of cocaine from the kitchen.

After exiting the Frontenac Street house, Hoffman placed Rosado in his truck with McGahee and walked toward Rosado's truck. Rosado freed himself, jumped out of Hoffman's truck, and ran toward his own truck. Hoffman chased Rosado and fired at him, hitting him once in the buttocks and grazing his leg. Rosado's wife began driving the truck toward the two men. Hoffman shot at the truck with Rosado's wife and mother-in-law in it, but ran out of bullets. Rosado then jumped into the truck and drove away, but Rosado's wife noted the license plate number of Hoffman's truck.

A short time later, Rosado's truck was pulled over by police. Rosado informed the police he had been the victim of a shooting and his wife gave the police Hoffman's license plate number. Based on information received from Rosado, the police then searched the Frontenac Street house, where they discovered Vasquez and Oliver, whom they detained, and recovered drugs, drug paraphernalia, and a loaded firearm.

That evening, a police officer observed Hoffman's truck run a red light in Camden, New Jersey. The officer pulled Hoffman over and, as he approached, observed Hoffman "making all kind[s] of movements in the vehicle." (N.T. Oct. 8, 2003 at 78.) The officer ordered Hoffman to place his hands on the wheel, but Hoffman failed to comply. The officer then asked for Hoffman's documentation. Hoffman responded that he had left the documents at a friend's house. The officer ordered Hoffman to exit the car. The officer testified that Hoffman became "rambunctious" and began to "push off." The officer then conducted a pat-down, and felt something in Hoffman's upper left-hand pocket. The officer shined his flashlight into the pocket and was able to see it was a box of hollow-point ammunition. After securing Hoffman and McGahee, who was in the truck, the officer performed an inventory search of the truck and found a loaded gun and several credit cards in the name of Roberto Roman, the alias used by Rosado. The officer took Hoffman into custody.

On January 25, 2001, the officer who had arrested Hoffman learned that there may have been an outstanding warrant for Hoffman or his vehicle. The officer went to the address Hoffman had given him and observed Hoffman on the street. When Hoffman saw the police he started to run but was caught and arrested.*fn1

On February 17, 2004, this Court sentenced Hoffman to life imprisonment on Counts One, Two, and Six, to run concurrently. On Count Three, Hoffman was sentenced to 10 years, to run consecutively to the life sentences. On Count Four, he was sentenced to two years, to run concurrently with the 10-year sentence, and on Count Five, Hoffman was sentenced to 25 years to run consecutively to the life sentence and 10-year sentence.*fn2 (N.T. Feb. 17, 2004 at 153.) Hoffman appealed this conviction to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.*fn3 In a decision dated September 13, 2005, the Circuit affirmed Hoffman's conviction, but vacated the sentence in light of United States v.Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), which was handed down subsequent to this Court's sentencing. The case was then remanded to this Court for resentencing. See Hoffman, 148 Fed. Appx. at 122.

While the case was on remand to this Court, Hoffman's new counsel filed a Motion for New Trial claiming after-discovered evidence under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 33.*fn4

We denied this Motion on October 24, 2006. On December 11, 2006, we resentenced Hoffman to 30 years imprisonment on Counts One, Two, and Six, and 20 years imprisonment on Count Four. Also, with respect to Counts Three and Five, we sentenced Hoffman to sentences of 10 years and 25 years, both to run consecutively to any other sentence imposed. Hoffman then filed a timely appeal in the Court of Appeals.*fn5 On March 28, 2008 that court affirmed the decisions. See United States v. Hoffman, 271 Fed. Appx. 227 (3d. Cir. 2008).

Hoffman filed the instant Motion on March 27, 2009, and raised the following ineffective assistance of counsel claims:*fn6

(1) trial counsel*fn7 was ineffective for failing to investigate known corroborating witnesses;

(2) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to offer the testimony of an inmate witness;

(3) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate an allegedly stolen letter;

(4) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate Government Exhibit 303;

(5) appellate counsel*fn8 was ineffective for failing to raise the issue of newly discovered evidence;

(6) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate Government Exhibit 205;

(7) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate the handgun and the handcuffs that were introduced into evidence;

(8) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to argue that the crimes charged did not affect interstate commerce;

(9) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to impeach witness, Detective Andrew Callaghan, with prior testimony;

(10) trial counsel was ineffective for not raising vouching objections;

(11) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to raise an Apprendi issue;

(12) appellate counsel*fn9 was ineffective for failing to raise a conflict of interest claim on appeal;

(13) appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to litigate a Batson claim on appeal; and

(14) sentencing counsel was ineffective during sentencing and for failure to raise sentencing issues on appeal.

II. STANDARDS OF REVIEW

1. Section 2255

Hoffman is entitled to relief only if his custody or sentence violate federal law or the Constitution. Section 2255 provides, in pertinent part:

A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground that the 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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.