United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Patti B. Saris Chief United States District Judge
Stanley Gonsalves was convicted at trial of a host of charges
stemming from his operation of an oxycodone-trafficking ring
on Cape Cod. He moves under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate
his sentence on the basis that his trial and appellate
attorneys rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. After
review of the briefing and the record, the Court
DENIES Gonsalves's motion
(Docket No. 507).
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Court assumes familiarity with the case from the First
Circuit's opinion affirming Gonsalves's conviction
and recounts below only the facts material to his motion to
vacate. See United States v. Gonsalves, 859 F.3d 95
(1st Cir. 2017).
in 2009, Gonsalves began to purchase oxycodone pills in bulk
from a Florida man named John Willis. Willis was
Gonsalves's primary supplier. Gonsalves and Willis paid
runners to carry money to Florida to buy pills from Willis.
The runners, who included friends, family, girlfriends, and
exes, transported at least one thousand pills per trip,
though some carried many more. Willis hid the pills in
vitamin bottles, which he doctored to look never-opened, and
gave them to the runners to bring to Massachusetts. Gonsalves
packaged the pills into packs of one hundred, which he sold
to lower-level drug dealers. Gonsalves paid Willis between
$14 and $17 per pill and resold them for between $19 and $21.
Over the three years of the scheme, Gonsalves brought around
371, 327 oxycodone pills to Cape Cod.
November 1, 2012, after law enforcement busted his operation,
Gonsalves was indicted for conspiracy to possess with intent
to distribute and to distribute oxycodone in violation of 21
U.S.C. § 84 6. Two superseding indictments added charges
for money laundering conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1956(h); concealment money laundering in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1); unlawful monetary transactions
in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957; possession of a
firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking conspiracy in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); and drug and money
laundering forfeiture allegations under 21 U.S.C. § 853
and 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(1).
trial lasted eighteen days with testimony from thirty-four
witnesses. Two witnesses testified about his possession of a
rifle. Mathew Hernon, the brother of an ex-girlfriend of
Gonsalves named Alexa Doran, testified that, while he was
playing video games at Gonsalves's house at the age of
fifteen, Gonsalves took an AR-15 rifle out of a case from
behind the couch, cocked it, and cleaned it. The weapon was
not loaded. Gonsalves told Hernon the rifle was stolen from
the police and he had it for protection because he thought
someone was going to rob him. Hernon saw the firearm one more
time a few weeks later.
the ex-girlfriend, also testified that Gonsalves kept a rifle
in a black case behind the couch at his home for a few weeks.
She and Gonsalves were distributing pills out of and counting
money in the house when the gun was present. Gonsalves told
her he did not have any bullets for the rifle and he bought
the firearm because it was cool. She never saw Gonsalves fire
the rifle, but he talked about shooting a gun at a
end of trial, Gonsalves moved for a directed verdict. With
respect to the § 924(c) charge, he argued that "a
reasonable jury could not conclude beyond a reasonable doubt
that [he] possessed guns no matter a real one in furtherance
of a drug transaction." Dkt. No. 303. at 4. The Court
denied the motion. On October 9, 2014, the jury convicted
Gonsalves on all counts. For the § 924(c) conviction,
the jury found that he possessed the rifle about which Hernon
and Doran had testified in furtherance of his
jury then heard additional arguments and instructions on the
forfeiture allegations. The following day, the jury found
$23, 503 in cash, two cars, and a house subject to
forfeiture. The jury also calculated $5, 074, 575 as the
"total gross proceeds of the oxycodone conspiracy,"
$3, 552, 203 of which was "reasonably foreseeable
to" Gonsalves. Dkt. No. 318 at 2-3.
Court sentenced Gonsalves on June 12, 2015. To determine the
drug quantity for his base offense level under U.S.S.G.
§ 2D1.1, the Court divided the gross proceeds the jury
attributed to him at the forfeiture trial ($3, 552, 203) by
$20, the average sales price per pill, and then added the
number of pills that were seized (and thus could not have
been forfeited). This calculation attributed 177, 610 pills
to Gonsalves, which resulted in a base offense level of 36.
The Court expressly rejected the Government's proposal to
attribute 371, 327 pills to Gonsalves based on conservative
calculations from the testimony of various runners and
suppliers about how many pills they trafficked, although such
a methodology would have led to the same base offense level.
With enhancements for money laundering, possessing a
dangerous weapon, serving as an organizer, and involving a
minor in the crime, Gonsalves received a total offense level
of 43 and a guidelines recommendation of life. Under the
statute and guidelines, the § 924(c) conviction called
for a minimum sentence of five years to run consecutively to
the sentence imposed for the trafficking offenses.
the argument, the Court stated that Gonsalves was "going
to get a non-Guideline sentence." Dkt. No. 476 at
the Court sentenced him to a term of twenty-five years of
Actually, the government stole my show a little bit because I
did think 25 years was what was appropriate here and not 30.
I think that's sufficient but not greater than necessary
to serve the purposes of punishment - that is, deterrence --
the gravity of the offense, giving you a proportionate
punishment to other people in similar situations in this
conspiracy, and also essentially making sure that the