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United States v. Maldonado

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division

July 6, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
TONY MALDONADO, Defendant/Movant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DISMISSING MOTION TO VACATE, SET ASIDE OR CORRECT SENTENCE, AND DENYING CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY

          HAYDEN HEAD SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Tony Maldonado (Maldonado) filed a motion vacate, set-aside or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255, a motion to appoint counsel and a show cause motion. D.E.

         25, 28, 29. The Government moved for summary judgment. D.E. 42. Maldonado did not file a reply.

         I. JURISDICTION

         This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         II. BACKGROUND AND CLAIMS

         Maldonado pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute less than 100 grams of heroin. The Probation Department prepared a Presentence Investigation Report (PSR). Maldonado's base offense level of 18 was calculated based upon the quantity of heroin seized, 23.58 grams. However, Maldonado qualified as a career offender pursuant to § 4B1.1.[1] He had two previous drug convictions, one federal and one state. As a result, Maldonado's offense level was increased to 29 after credit for acceptance of responsibility. His criminal history category was automatically increased to VI. As a career offender, Maldonado's sentencing guideline range was 151 to 188 months imprisonment.

         At sentencing, defense counsel argued that Maldonado should be sentenced below the guidelines. The government recommended 151 months. The Court sentenced Maldonado to 120 months, followed by five years supervised release. D.E. 18. Maldonado did not appeal. Judgment was entered on the docket on October 11, 2013. Id.

         III. MOVANT'S CLAIMS

         Maldonado challenges his sentence enhancement as a career offender pursuant to Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015). By a supplemental motion, he also argues that he is actually innocent of career offender status because one of his previous convictions no longer qualifies as a controlled substance offense. He also requested that the Court stay these proceedings until after the Supreme Court decided Beckles v. United States, 137 S.Ct. 886 (2017).

         The Government argues that the Court should deny the motion on the following grounds: 1) Maldonado waived his right to file a § 2255 motion, 2) the motion is untimely, and 3) it is without merit.

         VI. ANALYSIS

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         There are four cognizable grounds upon which a federal prisoner may move to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence: 1) constitutional issues, 2) challenges to the district court's jurisdiction to impose the sentence, 3) challenges to the length of a sentence in excess of the statutory maximum, and 4) claims that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; United States v. Placente, 81 F.3d 555, 558 (5th Cir. 1996). “Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and for a narrow range of injuries that could not have ...


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