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Matias v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division

April 26, 2018

SANDRA MARIA MATIAS, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. STEELE, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the Court on petitioner's Motion Under 28 U.S.C. Section 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody (Cv. Doc. #1; Cr. Doc. #207)[1] filed on August 15, 2016. The government filed a Response in Opposition to Motion (Cv. Doc. #9) on November 14, 2016, to which petitioner filed a Reply (Cv. Doc. #10) on November 21, 2016. For the reasons set forth below, petitioner's Motion is dismissed, or in the alternative, is denied.

         I.

         On October 1, 2014, a federal grand jury in Fort Myers, Florida returned a two-count Indictment (Cr. Doc. #1) charging petitioner Sandra Maria Matias (petitioner or Matias) and three others. Defendants were charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(ii)(11) (Count One), and with possessing with intent to distribute, and aiding and abetting that possession with intent to distribute, five or more kilograms of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(ii)(11) (Count Two). (Id.)

         On July 16, 2015, petitioner entered into a written Plea Agreement (Cr. Doc. #116) in which she agreed to plead guilty to the Count One conspiracy charge. Petitioner entered the guilty plea the same day (Cr. Doc. #117), and on July 17, 2015, the plea was accepted and petitioner was adjudicated guilty as to Count One. (Cr. Doc. #120.)

         The Presentence Report set petitioner's Base Offense Level at level 30 because of the thirteen kilograms of cocaine involved in the offense. (Cr. Doc. #178, ¶ 34.) Petitioner raised objections to the lack of certain reductions in the calculation of the offense level. (Cr. Doc. #133.) The Court ultimately granted reductions under the safety valve provision (two levels) and for being a minor participant (two levels); and granted a two level departure for mental health issues. (Cr. Doc. #191, pp. 6-11.) After the acceptance of responsibility reductions (three levels), petitioner's Total Offense Level was 21. (Id.) With a Criminal History Category of I, petitioner's Sentencing Guidelines range was 37 to 46 months imprisonment. (Id.)

         On January 12, 2016, the Court sentenced petitioner to a 36 month term of imprisonment as to Count One, followed by a term of supervised release and a special assessment of #100.00. (Cr. Doc. #179.) Count 2 was dismissed on the government's motion at the sentencing hearing. (Cr. Doc. #191, p. 19.)

         Petitioner promptly filed a Notice of Appeal. (Cr. Doc. #182.) On May 2, 2016, the government filed a Motion to Dismiss Appeal Based on Waiver in Plea Agreement. On June 10, 2016, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted the government's Motion to Dismiss, finding that the appeal waiver was made knowingly and voluntarily and was therefore enforceable. (Cr Doc. #204.) On June 15, 2016, petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Eleventh Circuit's June 10th Order. (Cr. Doc. #207, p. 3.) On August 18, 2016, the Eleventh Circuit denied petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration. On October 28, 2016, petitioner filed a Notice of Writ of Certiorari and on December 12, 2016, Writ of Certiorari was denied.

         II.

         In her § 2255 Motion, petitioner asserts that she filed a written objection to the Presentence Report objecting to the lack of a four-level minimal participant reduction, and that “at the sentencing hearing, counsel argued and sought a four level reduction due to her being a minimal participant in the activity in accordance with U.S.S.G. § 3B1.2(a).” (Cr. Doc. #207, p. 3; Cv. Doc. #1, p. 3.) Petitioner raises a single issue: “MATIAS' sentence is unreasonable due to the recent amendment to the sentencing guideline governing minor and minimal role reduction, which has been held by the Ninth Circuit to be retroactive. The denial by the District Court of MATIAS' request for a four level reduction due to her minimal role in the conspiracy, undermines MATIAS' sentence making her sentence greater than necessary.” (Cr. Doc. #207, p. 4; Cv. Doc. #1, p. 4.) The record establishes both factual and legal deficiencies in petitioner's claim.

         A. Subject Mater Jurisdiction

         The government asserts that the Court lacks the authority to entertain petitioner's § 2255 motion because her claim is not cognizable in a § 2255 motion. (Cv. Doc. #9, pp. 2-3 (citing Spencer v. United States, 773 F.3d 1132, 1138 (11th Cir. 2014)). The Court agrees.

         A district court lacks the authority to review a claim that petitioner's “sentence was imposed in violation of the . . . laws of the United States . . . or is otherwise subject to collateral attack” under 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a) “unless the claimed error constitute[s] ‘a fundamental defect which inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice.'” Spencer, 773 F.3d at 1138 (alteration in original) (citing United States v. Addonizio, 442 U.S. 178, 185 (1979)). “A prisoner may challenge a sentencing error as a ‘fundamental defect' on collateral review when he can prove that he is either actually innocent of his crime or that a prior conviction used to enhance his sentence has been vacated, . . . .” Id. at 1139.

         Petitioner makes no claim of a “fundamental defect” resulting in a complete miscarriage of justice. Indeed, the Eleventh Circuit has already determined that petitioner knowingly and voluntarily waived her right to challenge the sentence. The Court agrees with the United States that it has no jurisdiction over the motion, which is dismissed ...


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