United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
M. MUNLEY JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
before the court is Defendant Rafael Sanchez's motion to
vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. 199).
Based on the following, the defendant's motion shall be
March 24, 2015, a grand jury in the United States District
Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania returned a
forty-three count, second, superseding indictment against the
defendant in the instant matter. (Doc. 126). The defendant
was named in count 1, conspiracy to defraud the government
with respect to claims, counts 2 through 11, false,
fictitious and fraudulent claims, counts 12 through 31, theft
of public money, counts 32 through 41, aggravated identity
theft, count 42, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and count
43, conspiracy to commit an offense against the United
States. (Doc. 126). The charges involved a stolen-identity,
March 30, 2015, the defendant pled not guilty to the second
superseding indictment. (Doc. 133). Then, on May 5, 2015, the
defendant changed his plea to guilty. (Doc. 156).
Accordingly, on September 8, 2015, the court sentenced the
defendant to a term of ninety-four months in prison, three
years of supervised release, and payment of $694, 237.09 in
restitution. (Doc. 173).
December 26, 2017, the defendant filed the instant motion to
vacate his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc.
199). In his motion, the defendant raises six grounds of
ineffectiveness of counsel. The defendant argues his counsel
was ineffective by: (1) failing to advise the defendant that
mandatory deportation would accompany his guilty plea; (2)
failing to object to the denial of a two-point offense level
reduction for acceptance of responsibility; (3) misleading
the defendant during the signing of his plea agreement; (4)
failing to object to the calculation of the final sentencing
guidelines; (5) failing to argue for a downward departure
based on immigration status; and (6) failing to investigate
the defendant's relevant conduct for the overt acts.
(Doc. 199). On May 18, 2018, the government filed its brief
in opposition to the defendant's motion. (Doc. 209).
Then, on October 12, 2018, the defendant filed a traverse.
(Doc. 217). The defendant's motion is ripe for the
28 U.S.C. § 2255(a), a federal prisoner “may move
the court which imposed [their] sentence to vacate, set aside
or correct the sentence.” The purpose of this statute
is to allow “a prisoner in custody under sentence of a
federal court to move that court to correct an erroneous
sentence.” United States v. Biberfeld, 957
F.3d 98, 102 (3d Cir. 1992). In order to obtain § 2255
relief, the United States Supreme Court has concluded that a
plaintiff must demonstrate one of four grounds: “(1)
‘that the sentence was imposed in violation of the
Constitution or laws of the United States;' (2)
‘that the court was without jurisdiction to impose the
sentence;' (3) ‘that the sentence was in excess of
the maximum authorized by law;' or (4) that the sentence
‘is otherwise subject to collateral attack.'”
Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 427 (1962)
(quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2255).
defendant has pled guilty, the potential claims that he may
raise on the basis that his “sentence was imposed in
violation of the Constitution” are limited. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255. “By entering a guilty plea, a defendant
waives constitutional rights that inhere in a criminal trial,
including the right to trial by jury, the protection against
self-incrimination, and the right to confront one's
accusers.” Florida v. Nixon, 543 U.S. 175, 187
(2004) (citing Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238, 243
defendant asserts ineffectiveness of counsel for failure to
raise certain issues, which is potentially a violation of the
Constitution's Sixth Amendment right to counsel. A claim
of ineffective assistance of counsel based on a guilty plea
is analyzed under the two-part test developed by the United
States Supreme Court in Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668 (1984). Hill v. Lockhart, 474 U.S. 52,
58 (1985). The defendant must show that counsel's
performance was deficient and that the deficient performance
was prejudicial. Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687. In the
context of a guilty plea, a defendant may only claim that
counsel was ineffective if it rendered the plea involuntary
or unintelligent. Hill, 474 U.S. at 56.
noted, defendant's motion raises six issues. We will
address the issues in turn.