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United States v. Mills

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

May 6, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
GREGORY DENARD MILLS, Petitioner. Civil Action No. 3:13-CV-581

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES R. SPENCER, Senior District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on pro se Petitioner Gregory Denard Mills' Motion Under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence by a Person in Federal Custody ("§ 2255 Motion") (ECF No. 32). For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES the § 2255 Motion.

I. BACKGROUND

a. Factual Background

According to the Statement of Facts (ECF No. 22), from 2006 continuing through 2009 in the Eastern District of Virginia, Gregory Denard Mills ("Mills") did knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with others to knowingly, intentionally, and unlawfully distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base, commonly known as "crack." Specifically, as part of the conspiracy, Mills would supplement his income by distributing crack cocaine to drug customers and drug dealers in and around Richmond, Virginia. Mills also used friends and family members to assist him in the distribution of crack cocaine. At least six conspirators, cooperating with the government, implicated Mills in the distribution scheme. Two of those conspirators were under the age of 18 when Mills involved them in the drug conspiracy. Mills was the organizer and leader with respect to more than five participants in the drug distribution activities. The total amount of crack cocaine distributed was 196 to 280 grams.

b. Procedural Background

On June 18, 2012, a federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against Mills charging him with (1) conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846 (count one); (2) possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (counts two and three); (3) distribution of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (count four); and (4) distribution of cocaine hydrochloride, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (count five).

Mills subsequently entered into a written Plea Agreement with the United States on November 2, 2012. Mills agreed to waive indictment and plead guilty to a Criminal Information which charged the defendant with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of crack cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846. The Government agreed to dismiss counts one through five of the indictment. On January 25, 2013, this Court sentenced Mills to 180 months' imprisonment on count one of the Criminal Information, four years' supervised release, and a $100 special assessment. Mills was represented by Nia Ayanna Vidal ("Vidal").[1] Mills did not appeal his sentence.

On August 26, 2013, Mills filed the instant § 2255 Motion. In his § 2255 Motion, Mills alleges four grounds for relief:

Ground One: Ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to file a notice of appeal
Ground Two: The District Court violated Mills' Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to notice and trial by jury "by engaging in pre- United States v. Booker sentencing practice"[2]
Ground Three: Ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to object to the agreed drug quantity attributed to Mills
Ground Four[3]: The District Court imposed an unreasonable sentence in light of the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors

The United States filed a response in opposition on October 18, 2013 (ECF No. 39) and Mills subsequently filed a reply on November 8, 2013 (ECF ...


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