United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Peoria Division
E. SHADID, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are the Petitioner, Ramona Peete's, pro
se Amended Motion to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct
Sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (D.
and the Respondent, the United States of America's,
Response (D. 6). For the reasons set forth below, the
Petitioner's Amended § 2255 Motion is DENIED and the
Court declines to issue a certificate of appealability. This
matter is now terminated.
April 2015, the Respondent charged the Petitioner by way of
indictment with: Conspiracy to Defraud the Government, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 286 (Count I); Mail Fraud, in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (Counts II, III, and IV);
and Aggravated Identity Theft, in violation of 18 U.S.C.
§ 1028A (Counts V through XIV). (Cr. D.
Pursuant to a written plea agreement, the Petitioner plead
guilty to Counts I and VI in January 2016. (Cr. D. 11). The
Respondent agreed to bring no additional charges and reserved
the right to file a motion for downward variance from the
advisory sentencing guideline range pursuant to United States
Sentencing Guidelines (“USSG”) § 5K1.1.
Id. at pp. 9; 11-12.
to the plea agreement, the Petitioner waived her right to
collaterally attack her conviction and sentence. Id.
at pg. 7. In total, that section of the plea agreement was as
The defendant also understands that she has a right to attack
her conviction and/or sentence collaterally on the grounds
that it was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws
of the United States; that the Court was without proper
jurisdiction; or that the conviction and/or sentence
(including but not limited to, the amount of any fine or
restitution imposed) were otherwise subject to collateral
attack. The defendant understands such an attack is usually
brought through a motion pursuant to Title 28, United States
Code, Section 2255, and the defendant understands her rights
under the statute. Understanding those rights, and having
thoroughly discussed those rights with the defendant's
attorney, and in exchange for the concessions made by the
United States in this Plea Agreement, the defendant knowingly
and voluntarily waives her right to challenge any and all
issues relating to her plea agreement, conviction and/or
sentence (including, but not limited to, the amount of any
fine or restitution imposed), in any collateral attack,
including, but not limited to, a motion brought under Title
28, United States Code, Section 2255. The waiver in this
paragraph does not apply to a claim of ineffective assistance
to U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1(a)(2), the Petitioner's conduct
for Count I produced a base offense level of 6. (Cr. D. 22 at
pg. 6). After various adjustments, including a 14 point
enhancement for an intended loss of $1, 258, 640.00, her
resulting total offense level was 23. Id. at pg. 8.
For Count VI, a statutorily required two year consecutive
sentence was applied pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 1028A and
U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1. Id. The Petitioner's
guideline range for Count I was 46-57 months. Id. at
pg. 13. The Respondent recommended a downward departure,
pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1. (See the Court's
August 2, 2016 minute entry in the Petitioner's criminal
case.) This Court sentenced the Petitioner to, inter
alia, 37 months' imprisonment on Count I and 24
months consecutively on Count VI. (Cr. D. 24 at pg. 2).
March 2017, the Petitioner filed the instant Motion, amending
it in July of that year. (D. 1); (D. 4). Her challenge
relates exclusively to Count I. She claims her trial counsel
was ineffective in failing to verify that all of her victims
were veterans and failing to verify the amount of money she
attempted to take. (D. 4 at pg. 4). The complete supporting
factual basis for her claim against counsel is:
Counsel did not verify that all of the identities where the
name of veterans nor did he verify the amount of money that I
was accused of taking from the government. He did not discuss
nor go over any paperwork pinpointing the veteran's names
and the amount that was received by each person. He never
informed me that money paid out for child support, state
taxes, or federal taxes for back pay would and could be
reversed for the government to get their money back.
Petitioner reasons that she is entitled to a reduction in her
sentence for Count I because of “the unconstitutional
imposition of additional time of incarceration for uncharged,
unindicted, untried loss amount” which “lead
[sic] to an unduly long sentence.”
Id. at pg. 5. She further specifies that she is
requesting “a reduced non-guideline sentence without
[a] 14 point enhancement for money loss.” Id.
at pg. 13. The legal authority in the Petitioner's
analysis consists of a reference to Dean v. United
States, 137 S.Ct. 1170 (2017). In response, the
Government argues the Petitioner waived her right to
collaterally attack her sentence, and her Motion should be
denied. (D. 6 at pp. 7-10).
waiver of collateral review is generally enforceable,
assuming the collateral attack falls within the scope of the
waiver. Jones v. United States, 167 F.3d 1142, 1145
(7th Cir. 1999); United States v. Chapa, 602 F.3d
865, 868 (7th Cir. 2010). Here, the Petitioner alleges
ineffective assistance of counsel. (D. 4). Not all claims of
ineffective assistance of counsel overcome collateral attack
waivers; broad, unsupported accusations, in particular, are
not allowed. Long v. United States, 847 F.3d 916,
920 (7th Cir. 2017) (citing Hurlow v. United States,
726 F.3d 958, 967 (7th Cir. 2013)). More specifically, if
counsel's ineffectiveness ...