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United States v. Garcia

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 10, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
(16) MIGUEL ANGEL GARCIA, Defendant-Petitioner. Civil File No. 13-1140 (MJD)

Steven L. Schleicher, Assistant United States Attorney, Counsel for Plaintiff-Respondent.

Miguel Angel Garcia, pro se.

MEMORANDUM OF LAW & ORDER

MICHAEL J. DAVIS, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on Petitioner Miguel Angel Garcia's pro se Motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody. [Docket No. 813]

II. BACKGROUND

On March 18, 2010, an Indictment was filed in the District of Minnesota charging Walter Ochoa and 14 others in a drug conspiracy case. [Docket No. 29] A Superseding Indictment was filed on May 19, 2010. [Docket No. 346] Petitioner was indicted on Count 1, Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute.

On August 31, 2010, Petitioner pled guilty to Count 1 of the Superseding Indictment, Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), 841(b)(1)(C), and 846.

At the June 7, 2011 sentencing hearing, Petitioner contested the drug quantity used to calculate his base offense level and his safety valve eligibility. The Court determined that the applicable Guidelines were as follows:

Total Offense Level: 36 Criminal Category: I Imprisonment Range: 188 to 235 months Supervised Release: 5 years Fine Range: $20, 000 to $4 million Special Assessment: $100

On June 8, 2011, the Court sentenced Defendant to a term of 188 months, at the low end of the Guideline range, followed by five years of supervised release. [Docket No. 703]

Petitioner's attorney, Aaron J. Morrison, filed a Notice of Appeal on behalf of Petitioner on June 14, 2011. [Docket No. 711] Morrison continued to represent Petitioner on appeal. On April 4, 2012, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the judgment of this court. In its opinion, the Eighth Circuit addressed Petitioner's application for safety valve relief, and held that there was no error in the Court's finding that Petitioner was ineligible for safety valve. United States v. Garcia , 675 F.3d 1091, 1095 (8th Cir. 2012). The appellate court also addressed Petitioner's sentence, and held that it was substantively reasonable. Id.

Petitioner has now filed a pro se Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. [Docket No. 214]

A. Petitioner's Stated Grounds for Relief

Petitioner lists four grounds for his habeas petition. First, Petitioner asserts that the Court erred in its drug quantity determination by relying on testimony of a case agent who summarized statements by Petitioner's nontestifying co-defendants. Second, he asserts that the Court's drug quantity determination is invalid because the drug quantity was never pleaded in the indictment and was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Third, Petitioner asserts ineffective assistance of counsel. Fourth, he claims that the Court erred in denying his application for safety valve.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard for Relief under 28 ...


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