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United States v. Ruffin

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

May 9, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CHRISTOPHER J. RUFFIN, Petitioner.

MEMORANDUM OPINION DENYING 28 U.S.C. § 2255 MOTION

HENRY E. HUDSON, District Judge.

Christopher Ruffin ("Ruffin"), a federal inmate proceeding pro se, submitted this motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence ("§ 2255 Motion"). (ECF No. 40.) Ruffin argues entitlement to relief based on the following:

Claim One: Counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to advise Ruffin that the Government lacked sufficient evidence to convict Ruffin of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime (Mem. Supp. § 2255 Mot. 4, ECF No. 42), which was dismissed pursuant to the Plea Agreement. If Counsel had advised Ruffin of the Government's insufficient evidence in regards to the § 924(c) charge, Ruffin would not have accepted the plea agreement and would have proceeded to trial. (Reply Br. 5, ECF No. 45.)

For the reasons set forth below, the claim will be dismissed.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On September 22, 2009, a grand jury indicted Ruffin on three counts: Manufacture and Possess with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (Count One); Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) (Count Two); and Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (Count Three). (Indictment 1-2, ECF No. 1.)

The Government tiled a Notice of Intent of United States to Enhance Sentence, due to Ruffin's two prior felony convictions for Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Distribute. (1-2, ECF No. 10.) The enhanced sentence augmented the maximum statutory sentence that Ruffin could receive under Count One, 21 U.S.C. § 841, such that Ruffin faced up to ten years of imprisonment. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(D).

Counsel negotiated a plea agreement with the Government pursuant to which Ruffin pled guilty to Count One and Count Three, and the Government agreed to dismiss Count Two. (Plea Agreement 1, 6, ECF No. 12.) The Plea Agreement provided for a recommended disposition as to sentencing. Specifically,

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 11(c)(1)(B), and in consideration of the promise of the United States at the conclusion of the case to dismiss Count 2 of the Indictment that charge[d] [Ruffin] with a violation of Title 18, U.S.C. § 924(c), the parties agree[d] to recommend to the Court at sentencing that the appropriate disposition of this case [was] a sentence of 240 months of incarceration, composed of a sentence of 120 months of incarceration on Count One and a sentence of 120 months of incarceration on Count Three, the sentence imposed on Count Three to run consecutively to the sentence imposed on Count One.

( Id. ¶ 1.d.) The parties further agreed that "no suspended prison time now pending against defendant in cases 01-409-F and 03-662-F [in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond] will be revoked as a result of defendant's conviction in this matter." ( Id. ¶ 11.)[1]

Ruffin stipulated "that had the matter gone to trial, the United States would have proven each and every one of the factual allegations beyond a reasonable doubt." (Statement of Facts 1, ECF No. 13.) Ruffin stipulated to the following facts:

1. On or about July 22, 2009, in the Eastern District of Virginia and within the jurisdiction of this Court, CHRISTOPHER J. RUFFIN did knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully manufacture and possess with the intent to distribute a mixture and substance containing detectable amounts of marijuana, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841.
2. On or about July 22, 2009, in the Eastern District of Virginia and within the jurisdiction of this Court, CHRISTOPHER J. RUFFIN, having previously been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, did knowingly and unlawfully possess a firearm, to wit: a Rossi.38 caliber revolver, model M68, serial number AA515407, in and ...

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