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Long v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

December 11, 2019

RAMONA MARCEL LONG, Petitioner
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent

          MEMORANDUM

          KANE JUDGE

         Presently before the Court is pro se Petitioner Ramona Marcel Long (“Petitioner”)'s motion to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. No. 256) and her response to the Court's October 9, 2019 Order directing her to show cause why her § 2255 motion should not be dismissed as untimely (Doc. No. 268). For the following reasons, the Court will dismiss Petitioner's § 2255 motion as untimely.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On March 23, 2016, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Petitioner with: one count of conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with the intent to distribute 100 kilograms and more of marijuana; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; and nine (9) counts of manufacturing, distributing, and possessing with the intent to distribute marijuana. (Doc. No. 1.) After Petitioner was arrested (Doc. No. 41), she was released on a $150, 000.00 unsecured bond cosigned by her parents and her husband, Randy Irby (Doc No. 169 ¶ 5). On June 21, 2016, a report alleging that Petitioner had violated her pretrial release was submitted to the Court. (Doc. No. 169 ¶ 6.) The report alleged that Petitioner had violated her conditions of release by possessing a firearm, destructive device, or dangerous weapon, and by failing to comply with mental health treatment requirements. (Id.) The report advised further that Randy Irby “may no longer be a suitable surety.” (Id.) The report was based on information gathered following a search of Petitioner's home after Randy Irby “had sent several emails to Butte County[, ] [California] Supervisors that were of a threatening nature.” (Id.) Officers recovered bomb-making materials during the search, and Irby admitted to making smoke bombs and grenades. (Id.) Following a bond violation hearing on November 8, 2016, Petitioner's conditions of release were modified to limit Randy Irby to “staying at her home to Friday and Saturday nights only.” (Id. ¶ 9.)

         Petitioner subsequently entered into a plea agreement with the Government. (Doc. No. 104.) The plea agreement called for Petitioner to plead guilty to conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with the intent to distribute 100 kilograms and more of marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. (Id. ¶ 1.) On May 3, 2017, Petitioner appeared before Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson for a change of plea hearing. (Doc. No. 127.) Magistrate Judge Carlson concluded that Petitioner was fully competent to enter an informed plea and understood the consequences of her plea, that she was pleading guilty knowingly and voluntarily, and that the plea was supported by an independent basis in fact. (Id.) On that date, Magistrate Judge Carlson recommended that this Court accept Petitioner's guilty plea. (Id.) On May 23, 2017, the Court adopted Magistrate Judge Carlson's Report and Recommendation and accepted Petitioner's guilty plea. (Doc. No. 145.) On August 15, 2017, the Court granted Petitioner's motion to modify her conditions of release to allow Randy Irby to reside with her full-time. (Doc. Nos. 160, 163.)

         The United States Probation Office subsequently prepared a Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”), which concluded that Petitioner's total offense level was 32. (Doc. No. 170 ¶ 48.) Petitioner fell within criminal history category one (1). (Id. ¶ 51.) The Probation Office noted that Petitioner had pending charges for cultivating marijuana and possessing marijuana for sale in the Superior Court of California. (Id. ¶ 52.) The Probation Office indicated that Petitioner was subject to a mandatory minimum term of five (5) years' incarceration for the conspiracy charge and that Petitioner's total offense level of 29 and criminal history category of one (1) resulted in a Sentencing Guidelines range of 87 to 108 months of incarceration. (Id. ¶¶ 81-82.)

         Petitioner filed objections to PSR, asserting, inter alia, that she was entitled to the “safety valve” reduction set forth in § 5C1.2[1] of the Sentencing Guidelines. (Doc. No. 170 at 4.) The Probation Office determined that Petitioner was not eligible for the “safety valve” reduction because a dangerous weapon was possessed in connection with the offense. (Id.) On September 28, 2017, the Court sentenced Petitioner to seventy-two (72) months' imprisonment to be served concurrently “with any sentence which may be imposed in [the] Superior Court of California, case number CM044017.” (Doc. No. 202 at 2.) Petitioner did not appeal.

         On January 2, 2019, Petitioner, proceeding pro se, filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Doc. No. 256.) In that motion, Petitioner raises the following claims for relief:

Ground One: The Court erred by not granting relief at sentencing under the “safety valve” provisions of § 5C1.2 of the Sentencing Guidelines and 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f); and
Ground Two: The Court improperly imposed restricted access to her spouse, Randy Irby, as a condition of her pretrial release.

(Id. at 4-5.) In response, the Government asserts that Petitioner's § 2255 motion is untimely and that her claims are not cognizable under § 2255 (Doc. No. 263). In an Order dated October 9, 2019, the Court agreed with the Government that Petitioner's § 2255 motion appeared to be untimely pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255(f) and, therefore, directed Petitioner to show cause within thirty (30) days why her § 2255 motion should not be dismissed as untimely. (Doc. No. 267.) Petitioner filed her response to the Court's show cause Order on October 22, 2019. (Doc. No. 268.) The Government filed a brief opposing Petitioner's response on November 4, 2019. (Doc. No. 269.) On November 19, 2019, the Court received a letter from Petitioner that the Court construes to be Petitioner's reply brief. (Doc. No. 270.) Accordingly, Petitioner's § 2255 motion is ripe for disposition.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a), a federal prisoner may file a motion requesting that the sentencing court vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence on the basis “that the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the [C]ourt 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.” See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). However, § 2255 does not afford a remedy for all errors that may have been made at trial or during sentencing. See United States v. Essig, 10 F.3d 968, 977 n.25 (3d Cir. 1993) (citing United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979)). Rather, § 2255 is implicated only when the alleged error raises “a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” See Addonizio, 442 U.S. at 185.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Timeliness of Petitioner's Claims

         Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (“AEDPA”), a petitioner has one year from the time her conviction becomes final to file a Section 2255 motion. See 28 U.S.C. ยง 2244. Specifically, the one-year ...


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