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Rangel v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division

May 23, 2014

NELSON RANGEL, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Criminal Case No. 1:10-cr-00081-MR-1

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER

MARTIN REIDINGER, District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on an initial review of Petitioner's Motion to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 [Doc. 1]. For the reasons that follow, Petitioner's Section 2255 motion will be dismissed.

I. BACKGROUND

On November 16, 2010, Petitioner was charged in a Bill of Indictment with eleven counts of possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). [Criminal Case No. 1:10-cr-00081, Doc. 8: Indictment]. On December 6, 2010, Petitioner entered into a written plea agreement with the Government and agreed to plead guilty to Count 8 of the Indictment in exchange for the Government's agreement to dismiss the remaining counts. [ Id., Doc. 12: Plea Agreement]. The Magistrate Judge accepted Petitioner's plea of guilty after finding, among other things, that the plea was knowingly and voluntarily entered and that Petitioner was satisfied with the services of his attorney. [ Id., Doc. 13: Acceptance and Entry of Guilty Plea].

The United States Probation Office prepared a presentence report (PSR) in advance of Petitioner's sentencing hearing. In the PSR, the probation officer calculated a total offense level of 31 and a criminal history category of II which yielded a guidelines range of 121 months to 151 months' imprisonment. The statutory term of imprisonment was not less than 10 years and not more than life. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A).

On January 19, 2012, Petitioner appeared with counsel for his sentencing hearing. First, the Court confirmed that Petitioner's guilty plea was knowingly and voluntarily entered and accepted his plea of guilty. Next, the Court granted the Government's motion for a downward departure based on Petitioner's substantial assistance in the prosecution of other individuals that were involved in the distribution of controlled substances. See U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual, § 5K1.1 and 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e). The departure resulted in a sentence that was below the statutory minimum of ten years in prison with the Petitioner to be sentenced with reference to a new range of 97 to 121 months' imprisonment. Petitioner was sentenced to 97 months in prison.

Thereafter, Petitioner filed a timely appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. [ Id., Doc. 36: Judgment in a Criminal Case].

Petitioner's appellate counsel filed a brief pursuant to Anders v. California , 386 U.S. 738 (1967), certifying that there were no meritorious issues for appeal. Petitioner filed a supplemental brief contending that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel and that his sentence was unreasonable. On November 14, 2012, Petitioner's judgment was affirmed in all respects in a per curiam opinion. See United States v. Rangel, 487 F.Appx. 829 (4th Cir. 2012) (unpublished). Specifically, the Court rejected Petitioner's challenge to his sentence and declined to reach the merits of Petitioner's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel after concluding that the issue was properly presented in a § 2255 motion to vacate. Id . Petitioner did not file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court.

Petitioner filed the present motion by placing it in the prison mailing system on April 7, 2014.[1]

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to Rule 4(b) of the Rules Governing Section 2255 Proceedings, sentencing courts are directed to promptly examine motions to vacate, along with "any attached exhibits and the record of prior proceedings" in order to determine whether a petitioner is entitled to any relief. The Court has considered the record in this matter and applicable authority and concludes that this matter can be resolved without an evidentiary hearing. See Raines v. United States , 423 F.2d 526, 529 (4th Cir. 1970).

III. DISCUSSION

In his pro se § 2255 motion to vacate, Petitioner raises four grounds for relief. First, Petitioner argues that his trial counsel was ineffective in advising him about the amount of imprisonment he would face if he pled guilty and that his plea was knowingly and voluntarily entered. Second, Petitioner contends that he should not have received three criminal history points for two state misdemeanors. Third, Petitioner argues that the Government failed to present sufficient evidence that he possessed and sold more than one pound of methamphetamine. Finally, Petitioner argues that there was insufficient evidence that he had a managerial role in the distribution of methamphetamine. [Doc. 1].

Under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act ("AEDPA"), Congress has provided that a one-year period of limitation shall apply to a motion under Section 2255. The ...


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