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United States v. Machaca

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

July 26, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JESUS GUADALUPE HERRERA MACHACA, Defendant.

          Julie E. Allyn, Assistant United States Attorney, for plaintiff.

          Jesus Guadalupe Herrera Machaca, pro se defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE

          JOHN R. TUNHEIM Chief Judge United States District Court

         On May 15, 2013, Defendant Jesus Guadalupe Herrera Machaca pled guilty to Count 10 of an Indictment charging him with aiding and abetting the distribution of more than 50 grams of actual methamphetamine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A) and 18 U.S.C. § 2. (Change of Plea Tr. (“Plea Hr'g”) at 30:17-31:1, Feb. 4, 2015, Docket No. 574; Felony Information, May 15, 2013, Docket No. 400.)[1] On January 12, 2015, the Court sentenced Herrera Machaca to 168 months imprisonment. (Sentencing Hr'g Tr. at 22:3-10, Feb. 5, 2015, Docket No. 576.)

         On July 25, 2016, Herrera Machaca filed a pro se motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 asserting that the government fraudulently induced his guilty plea and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during the plea hearing. (Pro Se Mot. to Vacate (“Section 2255 Mot.”) at 4-7, July 25, 2016, Docket No. 639.) Because Herrera Machaca failed to factually and legally support his claims, the Court will deny the § 2255 motion.

         DISCUSSION

         I. SECTION 2255

         Section 2255(a) permits a prisoner to move the court that sentenced him to “vacate, set aside or correct the sentence” on the grounds that “the 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.” Such relief “is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and for a narrow range of injuries that could not have been raised on direct appeal and, if uncorrected, would result in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Walking Eagle v. United States, 742 F.3d 1079, 1081-82 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting United States v. Apfel, 97 F.3d 1074, 1076 (8th Cir. 1996)).

         II. HERRERA MACHACA'S CLAIMS

         In support of his § 2255 motion, Herrera Machaca claims the United States fraudulently induced his guilty plea and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.[2] Each of Herrera's grounds for § 2255 relief is discussed in turn below.

         A. Plea Hearing

         Herrera Machaca asserts the United States fraudulently induced his guilty plea because he agreed to plead guilty to Count 10 of the Indictment, yet the United States filed a different count in a Felony Information charging Herrera Machaca with aiding and abetting the distribution “of a different drug type than was originally charged in the Indictment.” (Section 2255 Mot. at 5.) Herrera Machaca asserts that Count 10, the count where he agreed to plead guilty, charged Herrera Machaca with distributing “50 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, ” in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) (Superseding Indictment at 7, June 5, 2012, Docket No. 36), whereas the Felony Information submitted as part of the plea charged Herrera Machaca with “50 grams or more of actual methamphetamine, ” in violation of § 841(b)(1)(B), (Felony Information at 1).

         However, the parties and the Court thoroughly discussed this discrepancy during the plea hearing where Herrera Machaca admitted to the 50 grams of actual methamphetamine drug quantity. There, the United States explained that “probation c[a]me[] back and add[ed] additional relevant conduct that would make [Herrera Machaca] eligible for a ten-year mandatory minimum [under § 841(b)(1)(B)]” due to the drug type of 50 grams of actual methamphetamine. (Plea Hr'g at 2:25-4:16; 30:9-31:1.)

         The United States offered to refile Count 10 of the Indictment to state that the offense violated § 841(b)(1)(A) rather than § 841(b)(1)(B), however defense counsel suggested - and the Court authorized - the plea hearing to proceed as if one Felony Information count had been filed charging Herrera Machaca with violating § 841(b)(1)(B). (Plea Hr'g at 3:18-5:24.)[3] The Court, defense counsel, and the United States repeatedly verified that Herrera Machaca understood this change and the consequences of the plea:

THE COURT: All right. Mr. Herrera, you are agreeing to plead guilty to what will be Count 1 of an information, currently Count 10 ...

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