United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER DENYING PETITIONER'S MOTION UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 2255 TO VACATE, SET ASIDE, OR CORRECT SENTENCE BY A PERSON IN FEDERAL CUSTODY
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, District Judge.
Before the Court is Petitioner Julie Ann Dahlquist's 28 U.S.C. § 2255 Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence. (Dkt. # 1). Ms. Dahlquist challenges the 24-month sentence imposed on her by this Court after she pleaded guilty to one count of Social Security Fraud. Petitioner timely brought this petition, and now challenges her sentence on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. After full consideration of the record and for the reasons set forth below, Ms. Dahlquist's § 2255 Petition is DENIED.
On June 20, 2013, Ms. Dahlquist was indicted on five counts of Wire Fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 and one count of Social Security Fraud in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1383a. The Indictment charged Ms. Dahlquist with engaging in a scheme to defraud E.D.L., a 78-year-old retiree who was Ms. Dahlquist's neighbor and landlord. Dkt. #15 at 3. The Indictment alleged that in May 2009, Ms. Dahlquist told E.D.L. that she had been diagnosed with cancer and needed money for treatment. E.D.L. agreed to assist, and wrote Ms. Dahlquist a check for $2, 000. Id. Between May of 2009 and September of 2012, Ms. Dahlquist returned to E.D.L.'s house 189 times asking for more money, purportedly for further cancer treatment. E.D.L. wrote Ms. Dahlquist a total of 190 checks totaling almost $400, 000. Id. According to the government, Ms. Dahlquist never had cancer and instead used the money to support her gambling habit. Id. Ms. Dahlquist subsequently agreed with these facts. Dkt. #15, Ex. C at 4-5 and. Ex. D at 17:18-20. However, now according to Ms. Dahlquist, E.D.L. "fueled [her] addiction to get what he wanted from [her]." Dkt. #19 at 2. She claims that she had been in a 12-year relationship with him and loved him. Id. She further claims that he offered her money and she did not obtain the checks from him by fraud. Id.
During the period of time she received money from E.D.L., Ms. Dahlquist also collected Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. Dkt. #15, Ex. C at 4. She never reported the income from E.D.L. to the Social Security Administration. Id. at 5. Her failure to report the extra income ultimately led to her indictment on Social Security Fraud.
On November 15, 2013, Ms. Dahlquist entered into a plea agreement in which she pleaded guilty only to the one count of Social Security Fraud. Dkt. #15, Ex. C. As part of the agreement, she also agreed to pay restitution to E.D.L. in the amount of $400, 200.00; to the Social Security Administration in the amount of $8, 458.00; and to the Washington Department of Social and Health Services in the amount of $8, 724.00. Dkt. #15, Ex. C at 3.
In addition, Ms. Dahlquist acknowledged that she was entering into the plea agreement knowingly and voluntarily, and that she understood by entering into the plea she was giving up certain appeal rights. Dkt. #15, Ex. C at 8-9 and Ex. D at 9:17-10:14 and 19:15-17. In fact, after extensive questioning at the plea hearing, the Court made a finding that Ms. Dahlquist was entering into the plea agreement knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily. Id. Ex. D at 20:15-17.
On March 6, 2014, this Court sentenced Ms. Dahlquist to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Dkt. #15, Ex. E at 19:16-17. At the time of sentencing, Ms. Dahlquist had written a letter to the Court regarding her alleged crimes, but declined to make any in-court statements. Id. at 13:11-20 and 15:3-4.
Petitioner now moves to vacate her sentence on the basis of ineffective assistance, arguing that she did not enter into her plea agreement knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily for several reasons as discussed herein. Dkt. #1.
A motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 permits a federal prisoner, in custody, to collaterally challenge her sentence on the grounds that it was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the Court lacked jurisdiction to impose the sentence or that the sentence exceeded the maximum authorized by law. Petitioner challenges her sentence on the grounds that she received ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with her guilty plea. The Court finds that Petitioner is not entitled to an evidentiary hearing in this matter because the Petition, files, and totality of the record conclusively demonstrate that Ms. Dahlquist is not entitled to relief. See United States v. Howard, 381 F.3d 873, 877 (9th Cir. 2004).
A. Standard of Review for Ineffective Assistance Claims
Petitioner argues that she received ineffective assistance of counsel in four ways: 1) she alleges that her lawyer erroneously permitted her to enter into a guilty plea while under the influence of prescribed medications; 2) she alleges that her lawyer was ineffective for failing to disclose discovery ( i.e., copies of checks) to her, which prevented her from objecting to discrepancies in those documents; 3) she alleges her lawyer was ineffective for failing to object to false information contained in her Pre-Sentence Report ("PSR"); and 4) she alleges that her counsel ...