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Figueroa v. United States

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

August 1, 2019

ANTONIO FIGUEROA, Petitioner,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Petitioner, Antonio Figueroa, is a federal prisoner who, at the time of filing, was incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp in Ashland, Kentucky. Petitioner filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's motion will be denied and a certificate of appealability shall not issue.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On direct appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit provided the following summary of Petitioner's underlying criminal proceedings:

Figueroa joined the police force in Camden, New Jersey, in 2003. In July 2008, he was transferred to a new Special Operations Unit created to target guns, drugs and violence in Camden's most crime ridden neighborhoods. Figueroa was assigned to the “fourth platoon” with his regular partner, Robert Bayard, as well as Sergeant Dan Morris, and officers Jason Stetser and Kevin Parry. On September 6, 2011, Figueroa and Bayard were charged in a six count superseding indictment with a series of civil rights violations. In addition to five substantive civil rights violations, they were charged with conspiring with Stetser, Parry, and Morris to deprive others of their civil rights. A three week jury trial began on November 15, 2011. Stetser, Parry, and Morris all testified at trial as cooperating witnesses with plea agreements. Other law enforcement officers and citizens who were victims of or witnesses to the activities alleged in the indictment also testified. Over the course of trial, the government presented evidence regarding twelve incidents in which Figueroa allegedly deprived individuals of their civil rights.
[. . .]
On December 9, 2011, the jury returned a guilty verdict against Figueroa on Count 1 of conspiracy to deprive others of civil rights and on Counts 2 and 3 of substantive civil rights violations relating to incidents occurring between September 14 and September 17, 2008. The jury acquitted Figueroa of the remaining counts and acquitted Bayard on all counts. Figueroa filed motions for a judgment of acquittal, or in the alternative, a new trial under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 29 and 33 on December 23, 2011. The District Court denied both motions. He was sentenced to ten years imprisonment on September 7, 2012.

United States v. Figueroa, 729 F.3d 267, 270-71 (3d Cir. 2013) (footnotes omitted).

         The Third Circuit affirmed Petitioner's conviction and sentence on direct appeal. See Id. On January 27, 2014, the United States Supreme Court denied Petitioner's request for a writ of certiorari. See Figueroa v. United States, 571 U.S. 1181 (2014).

         On October 18, 2015, Petitioner filed a motion before this Court requesting a reduction of his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). His motion was predicated upon Amendment 782 to the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“Sentencing Guidelines”), which reduced the base offense level for most drug offenses. See United States v. Culmer, 767 Fed.Appx. 368, 370 (3d Cir. 2019) (citing Hughes v. United States, ___U.S. ___, 138 S.Ct. 1765, 1774 (2018)). Petitioner's request for a reduction of his sentence was granted on December 10, 2015. See United States v. Figueroa, No. 1:10-cr-00685, ECF No. 116 (D.N.J. 2015). Petitioner's sentence was reduced from 120 months imprisonment to 97 months imprisonment. See id.

         On October 25, 2016, Petitioner filed the instant § 2255 motion, raising the following claims:

GROUND ONE: The trial court erred in admitting evidence of a powerfully inculpatory out of court statement of the co-defendant Bayard which was not subject to cross examination.
GROUND TWO: The court erred in excluding as cumulative the police report proffered by the defense while admitting numerous similar police reports offered by the prosecution.
GROUND THREE: The trial court erred in allowing prosecution fact witness to offer expert testimony on issues of constitutional law.
GROUND FOUR: The jury charge on the mental element of the civil rights offense did not adequately charge the specific ...

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