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Stark v. United States

November 23, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge



Before the Court is Daniel Stark's December 2008 motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Analysis of Stark's petition begins with an overview of the procedural history of the underlying criminal case, United States v. Stark (Case No. 03-cr- 30190-MJR).

In September 2003, the authorities executed a search warrant for firearms and stolen vehicles at Stark's residence and at his business. They discovered stolen vehicles, a stolen trailer, and fourteen guns. On September 17, 2003, an indictment was filed against Stark. That indictment was twice superseded; Stark was ultimately charged on thirty counts in January 20, 2005. Among other charges, the government claimed Stark stole tractors and all-terrain vehicles from Illinois and Missouri, then transported them across state lines to sell near Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Stark filed a series of motions to dismiss the charges, to exclude certain evidence against him, to strike or amend certain counts in the indictment, to continue the trial, and to be released from custody. Stark was first represented by attorney Charles Stegmeyer, Jr., whom Ted Barylske joined as co-counsel in September 2004. By June 2005 Judge William D. Stiehl had ruled on each of Stark's motions. Judge Stiehl recused himself, and the case was reassigned to the undersigned judge in late June 2005. Counsel Stegmeyer withdrew from the case. On August 19, 2005, the Court held a final pre-trial conference, where Stark's oral motion to exclude certain witnesses was granted.

Stark's trial stretched from August 29 to September 23, 2005, when a jury found him guilty of twenty-seven of the thirty counts arrayed against him. Stark's convictions included: being a felon in possession of a firearm (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)), conspiracy to possess and sell stolen motor vehicles (18 U.S.C. § 371), possession of stolen property (18 U.S.C. § 2315), possession and sale of stolen motor vehicles (18 U.S.C. § 2313), conspiracy to engage in monetary transactions in criminally derived property (18 U.S.C. § 1956(h)), and engaging in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property (18 U.S.C. § 1957).

Stark filed a Motion for New Trial in January 2006. On February 22, 2006, this Court heard oral argument on the motion, plus several hours of testimony presented by both parties. The motion was denied.

The undersigned Judge sentenced Stark to a total of 292 months in prison, three years of supervised release, a $2,700 assessment, and restitution totaling $522,506.17. Judgment was entered accordingly on March 31, 2006.

Stark appealed. He challenged the fairness of his trial on three grounds, including ineffective assistance of counsel. See United States v. Stark, 507 F.3d 512 (7th Cir. 2007). On October 17, 2007, the Seventh Circuit affirmed Stark's conviction on all counts. Id. at 522.

On December 1, 2008, Stark moved to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The pro se motion survived threshold review, the Court set a briefing schedule, and the motion became ripe when Stark filed a reply brief on October 29, 2009. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Stark's request for relief and dismisses his § 2255 petition.

An evidentiary hearing is not warranted. Stark attacks his conviction on theories stemming from ineffective assistance of counsel. Ineffective assistance claims often require evidentiary hearings because they "frequently allege facts that the record does not fully disclose." Osagiede v. United States, 543 F.3d 399, 408 (7th Cir. 2008). But the issues raised here can be resolved on the existing record, which conclusively demonstrates Stark is entitled to no relief. See Rule 8(a) of RULES GOVERNING SECTION 2255 PROCEEDINGS; Almonacid v. United States, 476 F.3d 518, 521 (7th Cir. 2007), cert. denied, 551 U.S. 1132 (2007); Gallo-Vasquez v. United States, 402 F.3d 793, 797 (7th Cir. 2005); Galbraith v. United States, 313 F.3d 1001, 1010 (7th Cir. 2002). In other words, Stark has not alleged facts that, if proven, would entitle him to relief. See Sandoval v. United States, 574 F.3d 847, 850 (7th Cir. 2009).



28 U.S.C. ยง 2255 authorizes a federal prisoner to ask the court which sentenced him to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence if "the sentence was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States,... the court was without jurisdiction to impose such ...

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