Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Guerrero-Clavijo v. United States

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

March 17, 2017



          PATTI B. SARIS Chief United States District Judge.

         Pro se petitioner Aldo Fernando Guerrero-Clavijo (“Guerrero”) has moved under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate his conviction and 144-month sentence for drug trafficking and money laundering. In his 78-page brief, Guerrero reasserts many arguments that were raised in his direct appeal. Guerrero also alleges that his counsel was constitutionally deficient. After review of the briefs, the Court DENIES the petition (Docket No. 907).


         On May 12, 2011, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Guerrero and nineteen codefendants with multiple drug trafficking and money laundering violations. On July 12, 2013, Guerrero pleaded guilty to thirteen counts of the indictment: conspiracy to launder money and to import cocaine into the United States (Counts 1 and 2) and substantive money laundering (Counts 4 through 6, 8, 9, and 11 through 16). Guerrero did not object to the presentence report's recommendation that the base offense level was 28, premised on money laundering of at least seven million dollars. Guerrero also did not object to guideline enhancements under U.S.S.G. §§ 2S1.1(b)(1) and (b)(2)(C) for knowledge of drug trafficking as the source of funds and for being in the business of money laundering. He did, however, object to the presentence report's recommendation of a four-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1 as a leader or organizer in a criminal activity that involved five or more people or was otherwise extensive.

         Guerrero's sentencing hearing occurred on January 21, 2014. The principal dispute regarded his role in the offense and the appropriate sentencing guidelines enhancement under § 3B1.1, if any. After hearing argument and considering testimony from an earlier evidentiary hearing, the Court applied a three-level enhancement. See Sentencing Memorandum, Docket No. 725-1 (dated Jan. 28, 2014).

         Guerrero conceded that he was responsible for at least $7 million in funds laundered between January 2008 and May 2011, giving a base offense level of 28 per U.S.S.G. § 2S1.1(a)(2). After including enhancements under the Guidelines, the Court found that the total offense level was 38 and the criminal history category was I, resulting in an advisory guideline range of 235 to 240 months. The Court varied downward and sentenced Guerrero to 144 months. Guerrero appealed on four sentencing-related grounds and the First Circuit granted the government's motion for summary disposition. See Docket No. 837.


         I. Standard of Review

         Section 2255 “provides for post-conviction relief in four instances, namely, if the petitioner's 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.” David v. United States, 134 F.3d 470, 474 (1st Cir. 1998) (citing Hill v. United States, 368 U.S. 424, 426-27 (1962)). The petitioner bears the burden of establishing the need for relief, as well as that of showing the need for an evidentiary hearing. See Barrett v. United States, 965 F.2d 1184, 1186 (1st Cir. 1992). “An evidentiary hearing is not required where the section 2255 petition, any accompanying exhibits, and the record evidence ‘plainly [reveal] . . . that the movant is not entitled to relief.'” Id. (quoting Rule 4(b), Rules Governing § 2255 Proceedings). Summary dismissal of a section 2255 claim is appropriate when the petition “(1) is inadequate on its face, or (2) although facially adequate, is conclusively refuted as to the alleged facts by the files and records of the case.” Id. (citation omitted). Section 2255 review is not a place to relititgate matters raised on appeal nor to raise issues that could have been presented on appeal. See Singleton v. United States, 26 F.3d 233, 239-40 (1st Cir. 1993).

         Guerrero claims his counsel was constitutionally ineffective for five reasons. To succeed on an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the petitioner must establish that (1) counsel's representation fell below “an objective standard of reasonableness” and (2) a reasonable probability exists that, “but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.” United States v. De La Cruz, 514 F.3d 121, 140 (1st Cir. 2008) (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88, 694 (1984)). “A reasonable probability is a probability sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome.” Strickland, 466 U.S. at 694. Review of counsel's performance is “highly deferential” and subject to “a strong presumption that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance.” Id. at 689. “A defendant's failure to satisfy one prong of the Strickland analysis obviates the need for a court to consider the remaining prong.” Tevlin v. Spencer, 621 F.3d 59, 66 (1st Cir. 2010); see Malone v. Clarke, 536 F.3d 54, 64 (1st Cir. 2008) (“[I]f it is easier to dispose of an ineffectiveness claim on the ground of lack of sufficient prejudice, which we expect will often be so, that course should be followed.”).

         Under the first prong, a petitioner must show that “given the facts known at the time, counsel's ‘choice was so patently unreasonable that no competent attorney would have made it.'” Knight v. Spencer, 447 F.3d 6, 15 (1st Cir. 2006). Counsel's tactical decisions cannot generally form a basis for an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Murchu v. United States, 926 F.2d 50, 58 (1st Cir. 1991) (“[T]actical decisions, whether wise or unwise, successful or unsuccessful, cannot ordinarily form the basis of a claim of ineffective assistance.” (quoting United States v. Ortiz Oliveras, 717 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1983))).

         The second prong of the Strickland test requires a petitioner to demonstrate actual prejudice from the alleged mistakes of counsel. Rice v. Hall, 564 F.3d 523, 525 (1st Cir. 2009) (describing the second prong as a “prejudice requirement” that has been “variously stated”). That is, “the [petitioner] must show that, but for counsel's unprofessional error, there is a reasonable probability that the result of the proceeding would have been different.” Sleeper v. Spencer, 510 F.3d 32, 39 (1st Cir. 2007) (citing Wiggins v. Smith, 539 U.S. 510, 537 (2003)).

         To prevail on a section 2255 ineffective-assistance claim, a petitioner must establish both ineffective assistance of counsel and entitlement to habeas relief by a preponderance of the evidence. Lema v. United States, 987 F.2d 48, 51 (1st Cir. 1993) (“The burden is on the petitioner to demonstrate ineffective assistance by a preponderance of the evidence.”).

         With these principles in mind, this Court turns to petitioner's particular allegations within his ineffective-assistance claim. As Guerrero is proceeding pro se, this Court interprets his petition liberally. See Butterworth v. United States, 775 F.3d 459, 469 ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.