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.

Espinoza v. United States

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

April 5, 2018

WILLIAM ESPINOZA, BOP ID 61712-019, Movant,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.

          MOTION TO VACATE 28 U.S.C. § 2255

          FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CATHERINE M. SAUNAS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The matters listed in the caption are before the Court on pro se motions to vacate, set aside or correct sentence filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 by federal inmates William Espinoza and Remberto Argueta. See [1416 (Espinoza's § 2255 motion)], [1422 (Argueta's § 2255 motion)] & [1431 (Argueta's supplemental filing)]. For the reasons that follow, I will recommend that Espinoza and Argueta's § 2255 motions be denied and that Certificates of Appealability also be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The relevant factual and procedural history is as follows:

Espinoza, Argueta, and 24 other defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury for their conduct associated with [the La Mara Salvatrucha gang (“MS-13”)]. According to the indictment, MS-13 is one of the largest street gangs in the United States, with about 10, 000 members. The indictment alleged that members of MS-13 have committed various criminal acts, including murder, robbery, illegal possession of firearms, and assault. In many instances, MS-13 members allegedly committed these acts in order to maintain or increase their position in the gang.
Along with their codefendants, Espinoza and Argueta were indicted in Count 1 for allegedly violating the conspiracy provision of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d). Count 1 named Espinoza in three overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy and Argueta in two. Some of these overt acts also served as the basis for specific crimes Espinoza and Argueta allegedly committed while in the gang.
Counts 22 through 25 applied to Espinoza. The indictment alleged that Espinoza used a gun in an attempted murder on July 20, 2008 and charged him with committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering activities (“VICAR”), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) (Count 22), and using a firearm in relation to this crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count 23). The indictment also charged Espinoza with aiding and abetting a VICAR murder on July 22, 2008, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1) (Count 24), and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm during this crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count 25). Espinoza offered to plead guilty to Counts 1, 22, and 23[, ] but not Counts 24 and 25. The government rejected this offer.
Counts 16 and 17 applied to Argueta. Count 16 alleged that on April 13, 2007, Argueta murdered a man, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1). Count 17 alleged that Argueta used a firearm in relation to this crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).
Before trial, both defendants filed motions to suppress. Espinoza moved to suppress a gun and ammunition found after a warrantless search of his bedroom. He argued, inter alia, that his roommate's consent to search their shared room was insufficient to authorize the search of his personal effects within that room. Argueta's motion to suppress challenged the admission of statements he made to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agents, asserting that the waiver of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), was invalid. The magistrate judge considered evidence, described below . . ., and, after making factual findings, recommended denying both motions. The district court adopted the magistrate judge's recommendations over the defendants' objections.
Both defendants also objected to the admission of two types of evidence. First, they objected to evidence of uncharged gang activity (the “RICO enterprise evidence”), which the government offered to support the RICO conspiracy claim. They argued that their offer to stipulate that the gang was an enterprise for purposes of the RICO conspiracy claim rendered this evidence inadmissible. Second, invoking Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123 (1968), the defendants objected to the admission of evidence that their codefendants confessed to certain crimes when those codefendants would not also testify at trial, arguing that the confessions violated the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The district court overruled these objections.
After a lengthy joint trial, the jury convicted Espinoza of one count of RICO conspiracy, one count of VICAR attempted murder, and one count of use of a firearm in relation to the crime of violence (Counts 1, 22, and 23, respectively). Espinoza was acquitted of the charges in Counts 24 and 25. At sentencing, Espinoza requested a two-level reduction in his total offense level for acceptance of responsibility under U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1 in the light of his pretrial offer to plead to the charges of which he was [convicted]. The district court denied this request and concluded that the applicable Sentencing Guidelines range was 188 to 235 months. The district court did, however, consider Espinoza's acceptance of responsibility when it addressed the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). The court explained that, because it did not apply the acceptance of responsibility reduction, it would sentence Espinoza at the low end of the guidelines range. With an additional 60 months tacked on as the statutory minimum for Count 23, the district court sentenced Espinoza to 248 months' imprisonment and five years of supervised release.
The jury convicted Argueta on all three charged counts: one count of RICO conspiracy (Count 1), one count of VICAR murder (Count 16), and one count of use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence (Count 17). For Counts 1 and 16, the district court sentenced Argueta to concurrent terms of life imprisonment, and for Count 17, the court sentenced him to an additional five years' imprisonment to run consecutively. Argueta also was sentenced to five years of supervised release.

United States v. Espinoza, 635 Fed.Appx. 739, 741-43 (11th Cir. 2015) (footnotes omitted). Espinoza and Argueta appealed: “(1) the denial of their motions to suppress evidence; (2) the admission of the RICO enterprise evidence and their codefendant's confession; and (3) their sentences.” Id. at 744-45. Finding no error, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit affirmed. Id. at 745.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Espinoza and Argueta have now each filed motions to vacate, set aside or correct their sentences pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See [1416], [1422] & [1431]. Espinoza asserts two grounds for relief and Argueta raises four grounds for relief, all of which I have construed liberally because the movants are proceeding pr ...


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.