United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON AMENDED MOTION FOR RELIEF PURSUANT TO 28
U.S.C. § 2255
BOND ARTERTON, U.S.D.J.
Geddes, Petitioner, moves to vacate his conviction and
sentence on two counts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For
the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's Motion is
April 28, 2015, Petitioner pled guilty to Count One of the
Indictment charging Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud in
relation to mortgage applications, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1349; to Count Three charging Conspiracy to Commit
Mail and Wire Fraud in relation to title insurance, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §1349; and to Count Seven
charging Conspiracy to Commit Mail and Wire Fraud in relation
to bankruptcy creditors, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§1349. On April 11, 2016, Petitioner appealed his
conviction to the Second Circuit, arguing that this Court
lacked subject matter jurisdiction over Count One of the
Indictment. In his direct appeal, Petitioner contended that
because one of the two banks in question was not insured by
the Federal Deposit Insurance Company or chartered by the
United States, it was not a violation of federal law to
conspire to defraud it. Petitioner argued that despite the
fact that he agreed in his plea agreement not to appeal or
collaterally attack his conviction in any court, that
agreement did not, and could not, waive the Court's lack
of jurisdiction over Count One. The direct appeal did not
dispute the facts or jurisdiction with respect to Counts
Three or Seven.
April 28, 2017, the Second Circuit found that
Petitioner's direct appeal was barred by the waiver of
appellate rights contained in his plea agreement and guilty
plea and dismissed the appeal. The Second Circuit held that
Petitioner "has not demonstrated that the waiver of his
appellate rights is unenforceable under United States v.
Gomez-Perez, 215, F.3d 315, 319 (2d Cir. 2000) [,
]" and that because "[t]he indictment charged all
of the statutory elements of conspiracy to commit bank fraud,
... the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over
Count One." US v. Geddes, No. 16-1138 (2d Cir.
April 28, 2017) (citing United States v. Yousef, 750
F.3d 254, 259 (2d Cir. 2014)).
31, 2017, Petitioner filed his First § 2255 Motion,
requesting that the Court vacate the judgment and sentence in
his criminal case on the basis that his "guilty plea was
the result of ineffective assistance of counsel. . . and the
result of violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights
to procedural and substantive . . . due process and to be
charged and sentenced by a Court with proper subject matter
jurisidiction [sic] to enter the judgment." ([Doc. #1].)
Petitioner identified two grounds for relief: the claimed
lack of subject matter jurisdiction on Count One, and
ineffective assistance of counsel.
the Government responded to Petitioner's First §
2255 Motion, Petitioner filed an Amended § 2255 Motion
accompanied by a Motion to Amend. ([Doc. #8].) After the
Government opposed the Amended § 2255 Motion,
substantively addressing the contents of the amended
petition, the Court granted Petitioner's Motion to Amend,
([Doc. # 13]), and now focuses upon Petitioner's Amended
§ 2255 Motion.
Amended § 2255 Motion incorporates his First § 2255
Motion while also "seeking to extend the ineffective
assistance arguments to cover the execution of the plea
agreement. . . and to Count Seven . . . ." ([Doc. # 8-2]
at 1.) Petitioner claims, in effect, that he received
ineffective assistance of counsel at the plea negotiation
stage because of his counsel's failure to recognize the
insufficiency of evidence to sustain his conviction on Counts
One and Seven. (Id. at 1-2.) Petitioner does not
challenge his conviction on Count Three.
Government argues that Petitioner waived his right to
challenge his conviction, and that he is procedurally barred
from collaterally challenging his conviction because he
failed to raise these grounds on direct appeal.
plea agreement explicitly waives his right to collaterally
attack his conviction, with the exception of claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel. And "[i]n general, a
defendant is barred from collaterally challenging a
conviction under § 2255 on a ground that he failed to
raise on direct appeal. . . . An exception applies, however,
if the defendant establishes (1) cause for the procedural
default and ensuing prejudice or (2) actual innocence."
United States v. Thorn, 659 F.3d 227, 231 (2d Cir.
2011) (citations omitted).
Petitioner styles his Amended § 2255 Motion as based
upon claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, Petitioner
does not credibly identify any specific actions his counsel
took or failed to take, or any decisions that his counsel
made, that constitute constitutionally ineffective assistance
of counsel, or that prejudiced Petitioner. Rather, the record
and Petitioner's own arguments in his Amended § 2255
Motion reveal that the gravamen of his complaint is with the
sufficiency of the evidence that could have been used to
convict Petitioner at trial.
Amended § 2255 Motion, Petitioner argues with respect to
Count Seven that "the sentencing transcript, the defects
in the plea process, and the incomplete presentation of facts
by the Government. . . fail to make out a crime when taken
in context with the allegations in the Counts and the
Petitioner's colloquy . . . ." (Am. Mot. at 1.)
Petitioner further argues that "there was no factual
basis for the plea," and that "there were no
actual probative material facts to support the
conspiracy" charge. (Id. at 2 (emphasis
added).) Similarly, Petitioner argues that "his plea to
Count Seven was tainted and [not] supported by any evidence .
. . the available evidence did not establish guilt...."
(First Am. Mem. Supp. Mot Relief [Doc. # 8-1] at 2.)
Petitioner also contends that he "was coerced into [the]
plea agreement," (Am. Mot. at 3), and that he pled
"guilty to what he thought was a favorable plea
agreement... while maintaining innocen[c]e on Counts One and
Seven[, ]" (First Am. Mem. Supp. Mot. Relief at 3).
respect to Count One, Petitioner recites his previous
argument on subject matter jurisdiction, which has already
been rejected by the Court of Appeals, and also argues that
he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his
attorney failed "to explain the gaps [between the
indictment and the evidence] before Petitioner entered into a
plea agreement[.]" (First Am. Mem. Supp. Mot. Relief at
4.) Petitioner argues that his counsel "made no effort
to challenge the sufficiency of ...