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Lara-Ruiz v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

August 22, 2016

GILBERTO LARA-RUIZ, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent. Crim. No. 4:09-00121-DGK

          ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR POSTCONVICTION RELIEF

          GREG KAYS, CHIEF JUDGE.

         This habeas case arises out of Movant Gilberto Lara-Ruiz’s conviction for using a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. Now before the Court is Movant’s Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence By a Person in Federal Custody (Doc. 1). Because Movant’s claim is meritless, the Court denies the motion and declines to issue a certificate of appealability.

         Background and Procedural History

         On April 9, 2009, a grand jury indicted Movant and eleven others on various drug, money laundering, and gun crimes. After a two-day trial, a jury found Movant guilty on Count 14, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A)(i), and Count 15, using a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A)(iii). The Eighth Circuit subsequently reversed Movant’s conviction on Count 14. United States v. Lara-Ruiz, 681 F.3d 914, 921, 923-24 (8th Cir. 2012).

         On November 5, 2013, the Court sentenced Movant to 300 months’ imprisonment to be served consecutively with another sentence he was already serving.

         On April 15, 2015, the Eighth Circuit denied his direct appeal of this sentence.

         On February 1, 2016, Movant acting pro se filed the pending § 2255 motion. The Government responded to this motion on April 4, 2016.

         On June 21, 2016, Movant filed another § 2255 motion.

         On June 24, 2016, the Court set an evidentiary hearing in this matter and appointed counsel to represent Movant on this motion.

         On August 10, 2016, the Court held an evidentiary hearing. Movant appeared and testified via video-conferencing.

         Standard of Review

         In a proceeding brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, the district court may “vacate, set aside or correct [a] sentence” that “was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a).

         Discussion

         Movant raises one claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, namely, that his attorney was ineffective for failing to properly advise him of the potential risks of going to trial versus accepting a plea offer.[1] Movant contends his attorney did not tell him that he faced a statutory minimum sentence of ten years and a maximum sentence of twenty-five years if convicted on Count 15. Movant alleges his attorney told him that he faced at most a ten-year sentence if convicted on this count. Movant contends he believed he had little to lose ...


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