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Hyduk v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

March 17, 2017

JOSEPH S. HYDUK, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM

          A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge

         Presently before me is Petitioner Joseph S. Hyduk's (“Hyduk”) motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, submitted on September 3, 2016. (Doc. 64, at 12). For the reasons that follow, the motion will be denied.

         I. Background

         On November 5, 2014, Hyduk pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and one count of tax evasion, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201. (Docs. 16, 17, 18, 19). The charges were the result of a federal investigation which determined that, from August 2010 through November 2013, Hyduk, who was a financial advisor, embezzled money from his clients. Instead of investing the client's money, as instructed by them, Hyduk deposited the funds into his personal bank accounts and used it for his personal gain. (Doc. 36, ¶ 6). Federal investigators determined that during the period charged in the criminal information, Hyduk stole $995, 724.28 from at least sixteen clients. (Doc. 36, ¶ 6).

         On July 30, 2015, I sentenced Hyduk to 63 months of imprisonment on each count to run concurrently, followed by three years of supervised release. (Doc. 51). Hyduk did not file any appeals.

         On July 27, 2016, Hyduk filed a motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Shortly thereafter, I provided Hyduk with instructions and information regarding his § 2255 petition, as required by United States v. Miller, 197 F.3d 644 (3d Cir.1999) and Mason v. Myers, 208 F.3d 414, 419 (3d Cir. 2000). (Doc. 58). On September 3, 2016, Hyduk filed his Notice of Election where he withdrew his habeas petition. (Doc. 63). Instead, the same day, he filed a new motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 64). In his current § 2255 motion, Hyduk raises claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, alleging that his attorney failed to bring Hyduk's alleged drug addiction to my attention at sentencing; Hyduk argues that the addiction “clouded [his] judgment and was a major factor in causing [him] to commit” the crimes. (Id. at 5). The Government opposes Hyduk's motion. (Doc. 67).

         II. Legal Standard

         1. The Framework of 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         Pursuant to § 2255, a federal prisoner in custody may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence upon the ground that:

[T]he 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 collateral attack.

28 U.S.C. § 2255(a); Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 426-27, 82 S.Ct. 468 (1962). The statute provides that, as a remedy for a sentence imposed in violation of the law, “the court shall vacate and set the judgment aside and shall discharge the prisoner or resentence him or grant a new trial or correct the sentence as may appear appropriate.” Id. § 2255(b).

         A district court is required to hold an evidentiary hearing on a § 2255 motion unless the motion, files, and records of the case show conclusively that the movant is not entitled to relief. Id.; see also United States v. Booth, 432 F.3d 542, 545-46 (3d Cir.2005). The threshold the petitioner must meet to obtain an evidentiary hearing is considered to be “reasonably low.” Id. at 546. With this in mind, in considering a § 2255 motion, the “district court must ‘accept the truth of the movant's factual allegations unless they are clearly frivolous on the basis of the existing record.'” Johnson v. United States, 294 F.App'x 709, 710 (3d Cir.2008) (quoting Booth, 432 F.3d at 545-46). The district court may, however, dispose of “vague and conclusory allegations” contained in a § 2255 petition without further investigation. Id. at 710 (quoting United States v. Thomas, 221 F.3d 430, 437 (3d Cir.2000).

         2. Ineffective Assistance Claim

         A prisoner seeking relief on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel bears the burden to demonstrate two requirements, as initially set forth by the Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984). To prevail on a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland, a defendant “must establish that (1) the performance of counsel fell below an objective standard of reasonableness; and, (2) counsel's deficient performance prejudiced the defense.” United States v. Otero, 502 F.3d 331, 334 (3d Cir. 2007) (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687-88); see also United States v. Seeley, 574 Fed.Appx. 75, 78 (3d Cir. 2014); Roe v. Flores-Ortega, 528 U.S. 470, 476-477 (2000) (citing Strickland, 466 U.S. at 688, 694). The Third Circuit has “endorsed the practical suggestion in Strickland [that the Court may] consider the prejudice prong before examining the performance of counsel prong ‘because this course of action is less burdensome to defense counsel.'” United States v. Lilly, 536 F.3d 190, 196 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Booth, 432 F.3d at 546, which ...


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