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Riley v. United States

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

March 29, 2017

HELEN RILEY, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent, Criminal No. 4:12-CR-339-JAR-l

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          JOHN A. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Movant Helen Riley's motion for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (Doc. 1). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. For the following reasons, the Court will dismiss the motion in part, and deny the motion in all other respects.

         I. Background

         On January 28, 2013, Movant entered guilty pleas to the following four counts, all of which were charged by indictment: bankruptcy fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 152(3) (Count 1); identity theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028(a)(7) (Count 2); making a false statement, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (Count 3); and theft of government property, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641 (Count 4). United States v. Rilev, 4:12-cr-339-JAR-l (E.D. Mo.) (Crim. Docs. 1, 27-28, 51). In exchange for Movant's guilty pleas, the Government agreed to, inter alia, dismiss a fifth count, which charged Movant with making a false statement (Crim. Docs. 1, 28).

         The parties' written plea agreement correctly stated that Count 1 was punishable by up to five years in prison; that Count 2 was punishable by up to fifteen years in prison; that Count 3 was punishable by up to five years in prison; and that Count 4 was punishable by up to ten years in prison (Crim. Doc. 28 at 7-8). Moreover, the plea agreement indicated that Movant had voluntarily entered into the plea agreement; that her guilty pleas were made of her own free will; and that she was, in fact, guilty of the offenses to which she was pleading guilty (IcL at 14). The plea agreement also stated that Movant was fully satisfied with defense counsel's representation, and that counsel had completely and satisfactorily explored all areas which Movant had requested as to the Government's case against her and any defenses she may have had to the offenses charged (Id. at 13). The plea agreement also indicated that, by pleading guilty, Movant agreed to waive, as relevant, her right to a jury trial and her right to require the Government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of each offense (Id.).

         The final presentence report ("PSR") noted that defense counsel had provided the probation office Movant's medical records which showed that she suffered from several serious medical conditions; Movant did not object to the PSR's characterization of her medical conditions or the treatment she was receiving therefor (Crim. Docs. 35, 38). In a sentencing memorandum, defense counsel argued, as relevant, that in light of Movant's medical conditions and her need for extensive medical treatment, the Court should vary downward from the advisory Guidelines range of 24 to 30 months in prison, decline to impose any term of imprisonment, and instead sentence Movant to a term of probation (Crim. Doc. 43 at 4, 7). In response, the Government argued for a within-Guidelines-range sentence, asserting that Movant had not established that the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") would not be able to adequately treat her various medical conditions. (Crim. Doc. 44).

         At the May 2, 2013 sentencing hearing, the Court informed the parties that it intended to accept as true the PSR's descriptions of Movant's medical conditions (Crim. Doc. 55 at 37-38), stated that the Court understood that Movant had a number of significant medical conditions (id, at 39), and conducted the following colloquy with counsel:

THE COURT: Let me go back to the medical information, because I want to make sure we're clear. So, again, I'm saying that the Court is accepting as true all of those statements in the presentence report with regard to her medical situation. And as I understand it, you don't believe that there's any other information that you would provide, you just want to make sure that the Court takes that as the true statements with regard to her medical condition; is that correct?
DEFENSE COUNSEL: That's correct, Your Honor.
THE COURT: All right. So based on that, you're not asking for additional time to present other medical information; is that correct?
DEFENSE COUNSEL: Not if the Court is relying on the presentence report for that, Your Honor.

(Id. at 42). The Court then discussed the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors, including the nature and circumstances of Movant's offenses, her limited criminal history, the need to provide restitution, and her medical needs (Id. at 44-47). As to Movant's medical conditions, the Court explained as follows:

THE COURT: Having said all of that, I do recognize [Movant] has had significant issues, identity issues, gender issues that have played a significant role in this case. And she certainly has some significant medical impairments that warrant consideration. And those medical conditions are significant, severe, but in the Court's view they do not necessarily suggest that a period of incarceration i it's not warranted.
For that reason, the Court believes that a variance is appropriate. Again, I think the variance is appropriate based on the history of identity issues, the history of gender ...

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