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United States v. Reed

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

September 24, 2019

KEVIN REED, Defendant.


          Ronald A. Guzmán, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court are Kevin Reed’s pro se petition to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and motions for discovery and an evidentiary hearing, which are denied for the reasons set forth below.


         On May 1, 2013, Kevin Reed was indicted on six counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, in connection with a scheme the Court of Appeals described as follows:

In 2008, Kevin Reed operated Lambert Clark Group and affiliated companies that he claimed were able to make loans of between $50 million and $1 billion to entrepreneurs and start-ups. Reed charged would-be clients advance fees of between $10, 000 and $50, 000 to apply for these loans. His claims were lies: Reed’s companies had no funds to lend, and while Reed and his co-defendants took in over $200, 000 from six would-be clients, they never closed a loan.

United States v. Reed, 859 F.3d 468, 470 (7th Cir. 2017).

         Reed’s co-defendants, Ralph Sweitzer and James Chatham, pleaded guilty. In October 2013, the Court set Reed’s case for trial on October 6, 2014. In September 2014, as Reed’s trial date approached, a change of plea hearing for Reed was set several times, but each time the matter was continued. On September 21, 2014, Reed sought a continuance of the trial date and to replace his attorney, Ralph Meczyk. The Court granted Meczyk leave to withdraw and continued the trial date to April 13, 2015 (and subsequently to April 20, 2015). Stephen Richards and Joshua Richards entered appearances as new counsel for Reed.

         Reed’s jury trial began on April 20, 2015. On the fourth day of trial, Reed’s counsel informed the Court that Reed had decided to plead guilty, and Reed entered a blind guilty plea to all six counts of the indictment. About five months later, Reed obtained substitute counsel, Thomas Leinenweber, and then moved to withdraw his guilty plea. In support of his motion, Reed submitted an affidavit in which he claimed that trial counsel had been ill-prepared and failed to pay attention at trial. (No. 13 CR 347, ECF No. 160-1, Aff. of Kevin Reed.) In his motion, Reed said that he was “left with the incorrect impression that pleading guilty was his only option to remedy his trial counsel’s inadequate performance.” (No. 13 CR 347, ECF No. 160, Def.’s Mot. Withdraw Guilty Plea.) The Court denied the motion, explaining that Reed had stated under oath during his plea colloquy that he was satisfied with counsel’s representation and had referred to him as “excellent, ” and that Reed’s claims of counsel’s ineffectiveness were vague. (No. 13 CR 347, ECF No. 175, Order of Apr. 7, 2016.)

         The Court sentenced Reed to a term of 64 months’ imprisonment. Reed appealed, raising two arguments: (1) he should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea because it was involuntary; and (2) at sentencing, the Court erred in failing to address his principal argument in mitigation, that a prison sentence would impose an extraordinary hardship on his family. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment.

         Reed now moves for post-conviction relief, raising claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, and violation of the Speedy Trial Act. Reed also seeks extensive discovery and an evidentiary hearing.


         Section 2255 allows a defendant to move to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence that was imposed in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States, was imposed by a court that lacked jurisdiction, was in excess of the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a). A court may deny a § 2255 motion without an evidentiary hearing if “the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show” that the defendant is not entitled to relief. Id. § 2255(b). Relief under § 2255 “is available only in extraordinary situations, such as an error of constitutional or jurisdictional magnitude or where a fundamental defect has occurred which results in a complete miscarriage of justice.” Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th Cir. 2013); see also Almonacid v. United States, 476 F.3d 518, 521 (7th Cir. 2007) (§ 2255 relief “is an extraordinary remedy because it asks the district court essentially to reopen the criminal process to a person who already has had an opportunity for full process”).

         A. Ineffective-Assistance Claims

         Reed asserts in the first six grounds of his petition that trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective in various ways. Ineffective-assistance claims are analyzed under the two-part Strickland test. United States v. Lindsay, 157 F.3d 532, 534 (7th Cir. 1998) (citing Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 688 (1984)). Under Strickland, Reed must show (1) deficient performance, i.e., that counsel’s representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness, and (2) that as a result defendant was prejudiced, in that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the outcome of the proceeding would have been different. See United States v. Jansen, 884 F.3d 649, 655-56 (7th Cir. 2018). “Because counsel is presumed effective, a party bears a heavy burden in making a winning claim based on ineffective assistance of counsel.” Shell v. United States, 448 F.3d 951, 955 (7th Cir. 2006) (internal punctuation and citation ...

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