United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
Michael P. Shea United States District Judge.
petitioner, Chandra Bozelko, is currently serving the
probationary period of her sentence. In this habeas corpus
action filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, the
petitioner challenges her 2007 conviction based on four
separate incidents involving larceny or attempted larceny,
identity theft, illegal use of a credit card, and forgery.
Connecticut Appellate Court determined that the jury could
have found the following facts.
The [petitioner] was employed by Kate's Paperie, a paper
products and gift store, between November 5, 2003, and
January 24, 2004. Kate's Paperie accepted major credit
cards, and store employees had access to the signed credit
card receipts, which included the customer's name and
full credit card account number.
In December, 2003, Pamela Williams purchased items from
Kate's Paperie in Greenwich. She paid for these items by
using her American Express credit card. Shortly thereafter,
Williams examined her American Express monthly statement and
discovered that approximately $3000 had been charged to her
card by a Greenwich boutique without her knowledge or
authorization. American Express investigated the charges and
determined that the charges were fraudulent. Williams'
credit card was deactivated and a new card using a new
account number was issued to her. Using this new card,
Williams made other purchases from Kate's Paperie. In
March, 2005, several purchases were charged to Williams'
new American Express account without her knowledge or
authorization. These purchases were made online from
Blissout, Inc., Amazon.com, Inc., Sephora USA, Inc., and The
Finish Line, Inc.
On January 20, 2005, Paul Gerst, a Federal Express employee,
attempted to deliver two packages to 133 Wild Rose Drive in
Orange. The packages required the addressee to sign a receipt
indicating that she had received them in order for Gerst to
leave them. The homeowner at 133 Wild Rose Drive was not
home, so Gerst did not leave the packages. As Gerst was
getting back into his truck, the [petitioner] came out of a
neighboring house. This house was numbered 183 Wild Rose
Drive. The [petitioner] informed Gerst that the packages were
misaddressed. She told him that they should have gone to her
home at 183 Wild Rose Drive, not 133 Wild Rose Drive. The
[petitioner] then signed for the packages using the name
Prior to January, 2006, John Hillgen lived at 133 Wild Rose
Drive. On several occasions, packages that did not belong to
him were delivered to his home. Each time Hillgen informed
the sender that they had misaddressed the packages and then
returned them to the sender.
Gerst was assigned to deliver another package to 183 Wild
Rose Drive on March 17, 2005. This package was addressed to
Pamela Williams. Williams did not reside at 183 Wild Rose
Drive. Gerst was instructed by his supervisor to deliver the
package to the town of Orange police department as part of an
ongoing investigation. Robert Cole, a town of Orange police
investigator, called the telephone number listed on the
package and discovered that it belonged to the [petitioner].
Five days later, Gerst was assigned another parcel to be
delivered to 189 Wild Rose Drive. When Gerst delivered the
package to the resident of 189 Wild Rose Drive, she informed
him that the package did not belong to her but, rather,
belonged to 183 Wild Rose Drive, the house next door. This
package was addressed to the [petitioner].
In December, 2004, Jonathan Boies and his wife, Jodie Boies,
were joint users of an American Express account. On December
23 or 24, 2004, Jodie Boies used her American Express credit
card at Kate's Paperie. On January 27, 2005, Randy Vines,
a fraud investigator from Nieman Marcus, the parent company
of Bergdorf Goodman, telephoned Jonathan Boies regarding
possible fraudulent purchases, in the amount of $2252,
charged to his American Express credit card and shipped to
133 Wild Rose Drive in Orange. The Boies' American
Express account was used again at the end of January, 2005,
to purchase approximately $43, 000 worth of merchandise from
Bergdorf Goodman. The customer who ordered these purchases
requested that the items be mailed to Debra Boies at 133 Wild
Rose Drive in Orange, and used the [petitioner's]
telephone number. Jonathan Boies did not have any knowledge
of these purchases, did not know of any Debra Boies and did
not authorize anyone to use his credit card.
The United States Postal Service and town of Orange police
officers conducted a videotaped controlled delivery to the
[petitioner], in which Patrick Bernardo, a United States
postal inspector, purported to deliver merchandise from
Bergdorf Goodman to 183 Wild Rose Drive, the address of the
[petitioner]. Bernardo asked the [petitioner]: “[A]re
you Debra Boies?” The [petitioner] responded that she
was and proceeded to sign “Debra Boies” on four
different sections of the United States postal parcel slips.
The [petitioner] was then taken into custody.
Bozelko, 119 Conn.App. at 487-89, 987 A.2d at
a jury trial in October 2007, the petitioner was convicted of
ten felonies and four misdemeanors based on her involvement
in four separate incidents involving larceny or attempted
larceny, identity theft, illegal use of a credit card, and
forgery. She was sentenced to a total effective
term of imprisonment of ten years, execution suspended after
she served five years of imprisonment, followed by four years
of probation. See Bozelko v. Warden, State Prison,
No. CV10-4003804-S, 2013 WL 4734867, at *1 (Conn. Super. Ct.
Aug. 13, 2013).
direct appeal, the petitioner argued that the trial court
improperly denied her motion for mistrial, denied her motion
to proceed pro se, and improperly instructed the
jury regarding a unanimous verdict. She also challenged the
convictions for identity theft and illegal use of a credit
card as violating her right to be free from double jeopardy.
The Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the conviction and
the Connecticut Supreme Court denied certification to appeal.
State v. Bozelko, 119 Conn.App. 483, 486-87, 987
A.2d 1102, 1105, cert. denied, 295 Conn. 916, 990
A.2d 867 (2010). None of these issues are included in the
20, 2010, the petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas
corpus in state court on the ground that trial counsel was
ineffective. Resp't's Mem. App. E at A-13 - A-20. On
October 5, 2010, the petitioner filed a second state habeas
action alleging ineffective assistance of sentencing counsel.
Id. at A-21 - A-25. The cases were consolidated and
counsel was appointed to represent the petitioner. In the
amended petition for writ of habeas corpus, the petitioner
alleged that trial counsel was ineffective in seven ways: (1)
she failed to adequately cross-examine the state's
witnesses; (2) she did not formulate a theory of defense or
marshal defense evidence; (3) she did not conduct an adequate
pretrial investigation; (4) her request to charge the jury
was not tailored to the facts of the case; (5) her closing
argument was inadequate regarding the existence of reasonable
doubt; (6) she did not move to suppress statements made by
the petitioner; and (7) she did not move to suppress any
identification of the petitioner as being unnecessarily
suggestive and conducive to misidentification. Id.
at A-31. The petitioner also alleged that sentencing counsel
was ineffective in four ways: (1) she failed to marshal
arguments in support of mitigation of punishment; (2) failed
to provide a sentencing report in support of mitigation; (3)
admitted that she was not prepared for sentencing; and (4)
stated that she “‘never imagin[ed] that [the
petitioner] would be sentenced today[.]'”
Id. at A-33.
state court held a hearing at which the petitioner, trial
counsel, sentencing counsel, and a criminal defense
mitigation specialist testified. After considering the
testimony and post-trial briefs, the state court denied the
petition. The court determined “that the petitioner has
failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, any
specification of ineffective assistance by [trial counsel]
under either prong of the Strickland standard by
which such claims are evaluated” and “[t]he
allegations against [trial counsel] are trivial and
inconsequential in light of the crushing evidence of her
guilt.” Bozelko, 2013 WL 4734867, at *5. The
court also concluded that sentencing counsel not only met
professional norms, “but in the court's opinion,
she far exceeded them. This count of ineffective assistance
remains unproven under the Strickland
criteria.” Id. at *7.
the habeas court denied certification to appeal,
Resp't's Mem. App. E at A-143, the petitioner
appealed the denial to the Connecticut Appellate Court. She
argued that the trial court erred in determining that trial
counsel was not ineffective with regard to five claims: (1)
failure to file a motion to suppress the petitioner's
allegedly incriminating statements to the police; (2) failure
to file a motion to suppress the Federal Express driver's
in-court identification; (3) failure to conduct an adequate
pretrial investigation; (4) failure to adequately
cross-examine the state's witnesses; and (5) failure to
give an adequate summation during closing argument. The
petitioner also argued that the trial court erred in
determining that sentencing counsel was not ineffective
during sentencing. Resp't's Mem. App. E at 9-28.
March 24, 2015, the Connecticut Appellate Court dismissed the
appeal without comment in a per curiam decision. Bozelko
v. Commissioner of Correction, 156 Conn.App. 901, 110
A.3d 548 (2015). The petitioner sought certification from the
Connecticut Supreme Court challenging the application of the
Strickland standard. Resp't's Mem. App. H.
Certification was denied on May 20, 2015. Bozelko v.
Commissioner of Correction, 317 Conn. 904, 114 A.3d 1219
(2015). The petitioner commenced this action on September 28,
Standard of Review
federal court will entertain a petition for writ of habeas
corpus challenging a state court conviction only if the
petitioner claims that her custody violates the Constitution
or federal laws. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(a).
federal court cannot grant a petition for a writ of habeas
corpus filed by a person in state custody with regard to any
claim that was rejected on the merits by the state court