Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
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.

China v. United States

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

April 30, 2018

RASSOL CHINA, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION

          JOSE L. LINARES,.Chief Judge

         Currently before the Court is the amended motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 of Rassol China ("Petitioner") to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence. (ECF No. 6). Following an order to answer, the Government filed a response to the amended motion. (ECF No. 12). Petitioner thereafter filed a letter in reply. (See ECF No. 13). For the following reasons, this Court will deny Petitioner's amended motion and will deny Petitioner a certificate of appealability.

         I. BACKGROUND

         In November 2013, police and federal agents raided a suspected heroin mill in Newark, New Jersey. (PSR at ¶ 9-15). While authorities entered the apartment in which the mill was thought to be located pursuant to a federally issued search warrant, Petitioner and several other individuals fled the apartment by way of a third story window. (Id. at ¶ 14-15). Petitioner, who appeared to have injured his legs in the process, then fled via car, nearly hitting an officer attempting to stop him in the process. (Id. at ¶ 15). Although Petitioner and some of his coconspirators initially escaped from the scene of the crime, Petitioner was eventually arrested at a nearby hospital in which he was being treated for injuries from the fall and a car accident that occurred following Petitioner's flight from the heroin mill. (Id. at ¶ 20-23). The search of the apartment from which Petitioner and his cohorts had fled uncovered more than a kilogram of heroin. (Id. at¶ 17-18). Based on these events, Petitioner was indicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute more than one kilogram of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A), and 846; and one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2 and 18 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A). (Docket No. 15-203 at ECF No. 19).

         On May 26, 2015, the Government offered Petitioner a plea agreement which he ultimately chose to sign. (Document 1 attached to ECF No. 12). Pursuant to the agreement, Petitioner agreed to plead guilty to both counts of the indictment in exchange for receiving no further charges related to the heroin mill and certain sentencing stipulations. (Id. at 1). In the agreement, Petitioner was informed that his plea of guilty exposed him to "a statutory mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of ten years and a maximum prison sentence of life, " and that his sentence would be "imposed . . . [in] the sole discretion of the sentencing judge, subject to the provisions of the Sentencing Reform Act . . . and the sentencing judge's consideration of the United States Sentencing Guidelines ... [which] are advisory, not mandatory." (Id. at 2). In the agreement, the parties also stipulated to various sentencing factors, including a three level reduction for acceptance of responsibility, a base offense level of 30, and that Petitioner's offense involved between one and three kilograms of heroin. (Id. at 7). These stipulations also noted that Petitioner "may be a career offender" but the agreement "reserve[d] the right [of both parties] to argue their respective positions [on the career offender enhancement] at sentencing." (Id.). Ultimately, these stipulations resulted in a total offense level of 34 "if [Petitioner] is determined by the Court to be a career offender" under the Guidelines, or a level of 27 if he were not found to be a career offender. (Id. at 8). Although Petitioner was permitted to address the career offender issue and argue for a low sentence within the guidelines range, the plea agreement specifically denied either party the ability "to seek or argue for any upward or downward departure, adjustment or variance" not provided for in the stipulations. (Id.). Both Petitioner and his attorney signed the agreement on September 10, 2015. (Id. at 6).

         Petitioner appeared before this Court to plead guilty on September 10, 2015. (Document 2 attached to ECF No. 12). In accordance with his decision to plead guilty, Petitioner also submitted to the Court an application to plead guilty, in which he certified that he had been informed that he faced a maximum sentence of life and a minimum sentence of 10 years, and that he would be subject to a sentence equivalent to a level 27 under the guidelines if found not to be a career offender and equivalent to a level 34 if found to be a career offender. (Docket No. 15-203 at ECF No. 43). After establishing that Petitioner was aware of his situation and could adequately understand his plea proceedings, this Court conducted the following colloquy with Petitioner regarding his plea agreement:

THE COURT: . . . Did you have an opportunity to read the plea agreement letter with your lawyer and read it yourself?
[Petitioner]: Yes.
THE COURT: Did you have an opportunity to ask your lawyer any questions that you may have had with regard to the plea agreement letter?
[Petitioner]: Yes.
THE COURT: Did he answer those questions to your satisfaction?
[Petitioner]: Yes.
THE COURT: Having read the plea agreement letter and having talked to your lawyer about it, do you feel that it sets forth accurately what you expect to get in exchange for pleading guilty?
[Petitioner]: Yes.
THE COURT: Are there any questions that you need to ask me or your lawyer about the plea agreement letter?
[Petitioner]: No.
THE COURT: Did anyone force you or threaten you into having to sign the plea agreement letter?
[Petitioner]: No.
THE COURT: After you read the agreement letter, did you then sign the agreement letter?
[Petitioner]: Yes.
[The Court then ascertained that the signatures on the agreement were those of Petitioner and counsel.]
THE COURT: Now, I want to explain to you that if you do plead guilty, there are certain consequences here that you should be aware of. Number one: The plea agreement letter is only a contract between you and the Government, but the Government has to abide by the plea agreement letter and so do you. I don't have to abide by the plea agreement letter. Now, normally I go along with the plea agreement letter absent some special circumstance, but I am not bound by the plea agreement letter, and you would not be allowed to take back your guilty ...

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.