United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
F. Dennis Saylor IV United States District Judge
On April 2, 2012, a jury found petitioner Charles Adams guilty of (1) conspiracy to defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; (2) tax evasion for the year 1996, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201; and (3) tax evasion for the year 2003, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7201. On September 27, 2012, the Court sentenced petitioner to 48 months of imprisonment on each count, with the terms to run concurrently. (Dkt. 546).
Adams has moved to vacate and set aside his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. He contends that (1) the government’s delay in prosecuting him violated the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1), and the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution; (2) his trial counsel was ineffective because she failed to move to dismiss for the alleged speedy-trial violations and failed to move for a severance; (3) certain evidence was wrongfully admitted; (4) the evidence was insufficient to prove the crime of conspiracy; and (5) the evidence was insufficient to prove the crime of tax evasion.
For the reasons set forth below, the petition will be denied.
On August 12, 2009, a grand jury returned an indictment charging that Adams and six co-defendants participated in a conspiracy to defraud the government by means of a payroll tax fraud scheme between approximately July 2001 and September 2004. (Dkt. 1 at 8-12). The indictment also charged Adams with evading taxes in both 1996 and 2003. (Dkt. 1 at 31-33).
Adams initially represented himself in the proceedings, but obtained court-appointed counsel on April 27, 2010. (Dkt. 106). A March 2004 search of Adams’s home, pursuant to a warrant issued on March 19, 2004, provided some of the evidence used to indict him. United States v. Adams, 740 F.3d 40, 42 (1st Cir. 2014). Although Adams later moved to suppress the evidence, the Court found that suppression was not warranted and the First Circuit affirmed that finding. See Adams, 740 F.3d at 42-43.
A jury trial commenced on March 2, 2012. Adams’s principal defense was that he had “a subjective good-faith belief that he was not liable for any of the taxes implicated in his case.” Adams, 740 F.3d at 42. On April 2, 2012, the jury convicted Adams of one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and two counts of tax evasion. (Dkt. 609).
On appeal, the First Circuit held there was sufficient evidence to convict him of a conspiracy. See United States v. Floyd, 740 F.3d 22, 28-30 (1st Cir. 2014). He did not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence as to his conviction for tax evasion.
A. Standard of Review
Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a),
A prisoner in custody under sentence of a court established by Act of Congress claiming the right to be released upon the ground 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, may move the court which imposed the sentence to vacate, set aside or correct the sentence.
28 U.S.C. § 2255(a); see also Ellis v. United States, 313 F.3d 636, 641 (1st Cir. 2002) (“In essence . . . section 2255 is a surrogate for the historic writ of habeas corpus.”).
Section 2255 provides for post-conviction relief “only when the petitioner has demonstrated that his sentence ‘(1) was imposed in violation of the constitution, or (2) was imposed by a court that lacked jurisdiction, or (3) exceeded the statutory maximum, or (4) was otherwise subject to collateral attack.’” Moreno-Morales v. United States, 334 F.3d 140, 148 (1st Cir. 2003) (quoting David v. United States, 134 F.3d 470, 474 (1st Cir. 1998)). “The catch-all fourth category includes only assignments of error that reveal ‘fundamental defect[s]’ which, if uncorrected, will ‘result[ ] in a complete miscarriage of justice, ’ or irregularities that are ‘inconsistent with the rudimentary demands of fair procedure.’” David, 134 F.3d at 470 (quoting Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 427-28 (1962)). A “petitioner bears the burden of establishing that [he] is entitled to relief under § 2255.” Troy v. United States, 946 F.Supp.2d 172, 181 (D. Mass. 2012) (citing David, 134 F.3d at 474).
B. Alleged Speedy Trial Violations
1. Speedy Trial Act
The Speedy Trial Act provides that when a defendant has entered a plea of not guilty, a trial should commence within seventy days of the time the defendant appears “before a judicial officer of the court” in which charges against the defendant are pending, subject to various periods of exclusion. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(c)(1). Adams first appeared in court on August 20, 2009. His trial did not commence until March 2, 2012.
Section 3161(h) of the Speedy Trial Act provides for several exclusions to calculation of the seventy-day time period. Among other things, time between the filing of a pretrial motion and its disposition is excludable under § 3161(h)(1)(D). In this case, time was excluded pursuant to § 3161(h)(1)(D) on two occasions when pretrial motions were pending: from June 17 to July 12, 2011, and from July 12 to September 13, 2011 (on that occasion, time was also excluded ...