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United States v. Sedoma

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 11, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
WILLIAM SEDOMA, SR., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

MARK L. WOLF, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Defendant William Sedoma, a former police detective, is serving a 235 month sentence for conspiracy to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and ten counts of mail fraud. Sedoma has filed a Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct His Sentence Under 28 U.S.C. §2255 (the "§2255 Motion"). He alleges that his trial counsel failed to file a timely motion to suppress, which resulted in his conviction on several of the counts against him. On April 17, 2012, Sedoma filed a Motion to Amend his petition. The Motion to Amend seeks to assert the additional claim that his trial counsel failed to adequately advise him about a possible plea bargaining.

For the reasons explained in the Memorandum and Order, the proposed amended claim does not relate to the original claim and, therefore, was not timely filed. With regard to the original claim, assuming, without deciding, that counsel's performance was deficient, Sedoma has not proven that he was prejudiced. Therefore, both the Motion to Amend and the §2255 Motion are being denied.

II. BACKGROUND

Sedoma was a detective in the Tiverton, Rhode Island Police Department. In October 1999, Sedoma was indicted with several other individuals in connection with a large-scale marijuana distribution operation in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The operation was headed by Alan Theberge. The indictment alleged that Sedoma repeatedly obtained confidential police information and relayed it to Theberge and his coconspirators to help the drug conspiracy evade detection. See Superseding Indictment (Docket No. 166) at 8-10.

Sedoma's jury trial before Judge Robert Keeton began on January 22, 2001. On the first day of trial, defense counsel, John Verdecchia, Esq., filed a motion to suppress certain documentary evidence seized from Sedoma's desk at the police station pursuant to two federal search warrants. The Judge denied the motion to suppress as untimely and inadequately supported. See Jan. 22, 2001 Tr. at 13:8-13.

On February 23, 2001, the jury returned guilty verdicts on thirteen of the nineteen charges against Sedoma. Judge Keeton sentenced Sedoma to 293 months in prison on the marijuana conspiracy count and 60 months on each of the other counts, to be served concurrently. This sentence was vacated by the First Circuit, which found that the judge had miscalculated Sedoma's sentencing guideline range by failing to consider all of his offenses as a single "group." See United States v. Sedoma, 332 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2003).

Judge Keeton recused himself from the resentencing. On November 21, 2006, this court resentenced Sedoma to 235 months in prison on the marijuana conspiracy count and 60 months on each of the remaining counts, to be served concurrently. Sedoma again appealed to the First Circuit, but subsequently voluntarily dismissed the appeal.

On December 15, 2009, Sedoma filed the instant §2255 Motion, which make a single claim: that Mr. Verdecchia had provided constitutionally ineffective assistance by failing to file a timely motion to suppress evidence that had been seized from the desk in Sedoma's office. The government moved to dismiss the §2255 Motion.

On April 17, 2012, Sedoma filed a Motion to Amend his §2255 Motion. He seeks to add a second ineffective assistance of counsel claim. In that claim, Sedoma argues that Mr. Verdecchia's assistance was also ineffective because he had failed to provide Sedoma with adequate advice concerning the benefits of pleading guilty. See Pet'r Mot. to Amend by Adding Claim (Docket No. 406).

On May 20, 2014, the court ordered the parties to submit memoranda concerning several issues raised by the §2255 Motion and his Motion to Amend. See June 23, 2014 Order. The parties complied with this Order.

III. THE MOTION TO AMEND

Sedoma's Motion to Amend was filed nearly two years after the §2255 limitations period for Sedoma's conviction expired. The claim asserted in the Motion to Amend is not related to the claim in the original §2255 Motion. Therefore, it does not relate back to the date that the §2255 Motion was filed. Contrary to Sedoma's contention, the limitations period is not extended by 28 U.S.C. §2255(f) (3) because the second ineffective assistance claim does not rely on a "newly recognized" constitutional right. Accordingly, the Motion to Amend is untimely and is being denied.

A. Legal Standard

Motions under 28 U.S.C. §2255 are subject to "[a] 1-year period of limitation." 28 U.S.C. §2255(f). This period of limitation begins on the latest of several alternative dates:

(1) the date on which the judgment of conviction becomes final;
...
(3) the date on which the right asserted was initially recognized by the Supreme Court, if that right has been newly recognized by the Supreme Court and made retroactively applicable to cases on collateral review;
...

Id.

Amendments to §2255 motions are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15. See United States v. Ciampi, 419 F.3d 20, 23 (1st Cir. 2005). Accordingly, claims asserted in an amended motion "relate back" to the date of the original motion if they "arose out of the conduct, transaction, or occurrence set out - or attempted to be set out - in the original pleading." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c) (1) (B).

When applied to §2255 motions, "the Rule 15 relation back' provision is to be strictly construed." Ciampi, 419 F.3d at 23; Turner v. United States, 699 F.3d 578, 585 (1st Cir. 2012). Claims under §2255 asserted by amendment only "relate back" if they "arise from the same core facts, ' and [do] not depend upon events which are separate both in time and type from the events upon which the original claims depended." Ciampi, 419 F.3d at 24 (quoting Mayle v. Felix, 545 U.S. 644, 657 (2005)). When the ground for relief is ineffective assistance of counsel, "the standard cannot be satisfied merely by raising some type of ineffective assistance in the original petition, and then amending the petition to assert another ineffective assistance claim based upon an entirely distinct type of attorney misfeasance." Id .; see also Turner, 699 F.3d at 585.

B. Analysis

1. One-Year Limitations Period and "Relation Back"

Judgment against Sedoma was entered on November 21, 2006. Although Sedoma appealed within ten days, he voluntarily dismissed his appeal on April 14, 2009. Section 2255(f) (1) provides that §2255 petitions must be filed within one year from "the date on which the judgment of conviction [became] final." Sedoma's conviction became final on July 14, 2009. See Clay v. United States, 537 U.S. 522, 524 (2003) (conviction becomes final when the time for filing a petition for certiorari expires, which is 90 days the court of appeals enters judgment). Therefore, Sedoma's §2255 one-year limitations period ended on July 14, 2010. The Motion to Amend was not filed until April 17, 2012, nearly two years after expiration of the limitations period.

Sedoma's Motion to Amend does not relate back to his original §2255 Motion. The two motions allege unrelated acts of ineffective assistance that are separated both in time and type. The original motion alleged a failure to file a timely motion to suppress on the first day of trial, while the proposed amended motion alleges ...


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