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United States v. Vasquez

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 7, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
WILSON VASQUEZ, ET AL

          RULING ON MOTION TO WITHDRAW GUILTY PLEA

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On January 10, 2017, Defendant Samuel Albarran filed a motion to withdraw his plea of guilty, which he entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Garfinkel on September 15, 2016. Mot. to Withdraw Plea, ECF No. 643. For the reasons stated below, Mr. Albarran's [643] motion is DENIED.

         I. Procedural Background

         On July 9, 2015, Defendant Samuel Albarran was indicted on charges of participation in a heroin trafficking conspiracy. Indictment, ECF No. 1. In Count One of the Indictment, Mr. Albarran was charged with conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute between 100 grams and 1 kilogram of heroin under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(i), which carries a statutory minimum sentence of 5 years' imprisonment and a maximum sentence of 40 years' imprisonment. Id.

         On July 8, 2016, Mr. Albarran was named in a superseding indictment charging him with three additional counts. Superseding Indictment, ECF No. 337. In Count Seven of the superseding indictment, Mr. Albarran was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924(a)(2), which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years. Id. In Count Eight of the superseding indictment, Mr. Albarran was separately charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime under 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i) and 924(c)(2), which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years' imprisonment, which is required to run consecutively to the underlying drug trafficking offense. Id. In Count Six of the superseding indictment, Mr. Albarran was also charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin and cocaine under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C) and 18 U.S.C. § 2.

         Mr. Albarran initially entered a plea of not guilty on all counts, and he was scheduled for a jury trial on September 20, 2016. Notice, ECF No. 374. The Court held a final pre-trial conference on September 14, 2016. Minute Entry, ECF No. 470. That same day, Mr. Albarran appeared before Magistrate Judge Garfinkel, with counsel, to participate in a hearing under Missouri v. Frye, 132 S.Ct. 1399 (2012), to evaluate the government's offer of disposition as well as potential penalties if convicted at trial. Minute Entry, ECF No. 642. The very next day, on September 15, 2016, five calendar days before the scheduled jury trial, Mr. Albarran again appeared before Magistrate Judge Garfinkel and pled guilty to two counts of the superseding indictment. Minute Entry, ECF No. 501.

         During the change of plea hearing, Mr. Albarran specifically acknowledged his guilt with respect to the offense conduct. The hearing transcript reflects the following exchange:

THE COURT: Could you ask a few follow-up questions just to make sure, yet one more time, that we covered each of those essential elements?
MR. DONOVAN: Okay. So, the allegations of the government were essentially that your brother was running a drug operation and that constituted a conspiracy, and was a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute heroin. And at some point in some, I say, a minimal way, but in a way anyway, you actually became involved in that; is that fair to say?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
MR. DONOVAN: And then in addition to that, they claim that you had constructive possession over a firearm, and that that firearm was used in furtherance of the drug conspiracy? This, of course, has to do with the two firearms that were seized at 501 Blatchley, you understand that, right?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
MR. DONOVAN: And you weren't living at 501 Blatchley?
THE DEFENDANT: No, I wasn't.
MR. DONOVAN: But nevertheless you did have -- your mom lived upstairs there?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, she did.
MR. DONOVAN: And another brother was actually renting that ...

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