United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Glen E. Conrad Senior United States District Judge.
Ellen Snyder has moved to vacate, set aside, or correct her
federal sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The government
has filed a motion to dismiss, to which Snyder has responded,
making the matter ripe for consideration. For the reasons
that follow, the government's motion to dismiss will be
granted and Snyder's motion to vacate will be denied.
April 3, 2014, a grand jury in the Western District of
Virginia returned an indictment against Snyder and eleven
codefendants. Count One charged Snyder with conspiracy to
distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or
more of a mixture or substance containing methamphetamine, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A),
and 846. Count Sixteen charged her with distribution of fifty
grams or more of a mixture or substance containing
methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)
entered a plea of guilty to Count One of the indictment on
September 15, 2014. Under the terms of the written plea
agreement, the parties stipulated that Snyder should be held
responsible for at least five but less than fifteen kilograms
of methamphetamine. For its part, the government agreed to
move to dismiss the remaining count of the indictment in
which Snyder was charged. The government also agreed to
recommend a three-level reduction for acceptance of
responsibility under § 3E1.1 of the United States
Sentencing Guidelines, if Snyder, in fact, accepted
responsibility for her actions and complied with her
obligations under the plea agreement. In exchange, Snyder
agreed to waive her right to appeal her sentence "on any
ground" except "as to any issue which cannot be
waived, by law." Plea Agreement 7, Docket No. 251.
Snyder also agreed to "waive any right [she] may have to
collaterally attack, in any future proceeding, any order
issued in this matter, unless such attack is based on
ineffective assistance of counsel." Id. at 7-8.
Additionally, Snyder acknowledged that the government was
retaining all of its rights to seek a reduction of sentence
on the basis of substantial assistance, that the government
was under no obligation to make such motion, and that
"[n]o promises [had] been made" in that regard.
Id. at 4.
initialed every page of the plea agreement, including the
page containing the waiver of collateral-attack rights. By
signing the plea agreement, Snyder affirmed that she had
carefully reviewed every section of the agreement with her
attorney, that she understood the agreement, and that she was
voluntarily agreeing to its terms. Id. at 12. Snyder
further acknowledged that she had "not been coerced,
threatened, or promised anything other than the terms"
of the plea agreement, in exchange for her plea of guilty.
the guilty plea hearing conducted pursuant to Rule 11 of the
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, the court established
that Snyder possessed the capacity to make a voluntary,
intelligent, and informed decision. Plea H'rg Tr. 5-7,
Docket No. 439. The court also established that Snyder
understood the conspiracy charge to which she was pleading
guilty, as well as the purpose of the hearing. Id.
court instructed the Assistant United States Attorney to
review the elements of the conspiracy charge, the applicable
statutory penalties, and the most important provisions of the
plea agreement that Snyder had reached with the government.
The prosecutor subsequently outlined several sections of the
plea agreement, including section B(2), in which Snyder
stipulated that her conduct involved at least five but less
than fifteen kilograms of methamphetamine. Id. at
10. The prosecutor also summarized Sections C(1) and (2) of
the plea agreement. She explained that, pursuant to those
sections, Snyder had "agreed to waive her right to
appeal any and all issues that can be waived" and her
"right to collaterally attack the judgment in her
case." Id. at 11. Upon being asked if the
prosecutor's summary of the plea agreement was consistent
with her own understanding of the agreement, Snyder responded
in the affirmative. Id. at 12.
court then inquired as to whether Snyder was voluntarily
pleading guilty. In response to the court's questions,
Snyder affirmed that no one had made any promises or
representations regarding the disposition of the case other
than those set forth in the plea agreement, that no one had
promised her a particular outcome or sentence, and that no
one had told her that she "would be treated in some
special, favorable way." Id. at 12-13. Snyder
further affirmed that no one had attempted to coerce or
compel her to plead guilty, and that she was pleading guilty
because she was, in fact, guilty of the conspiracy offense
charged in Count One of the indictment. Id. at 13.
Snyder also indicated that she understood that the parties
had agreed that she should be held accountable for between
five and fifteen kilograms of methamphetamine. Id.
at 17, 37. Snyder further affirmed that she understood the
waiver provisions in the plea agreement. Id. at
court subsequently reviewed additional rights that Snyder
would waive by pleading guilty rather than proceeding to
trial. Notwithstanding all of the valuable rights that she
would waive by pleading guilty, and the penalties that could
be imposed upon conviction, Snyder indicated that she was
"absolutely sure" that she still wished to plead
guilty. Id. at 31. The court then asked Snyder to
explain what she had done that made her believe that she was
guilty of the offense charged in Count One of the indictment.
In response, Snyder advised the court that she was involved
in a "conspiracy to sell drugs, " and that she sold
and "front[ed]" methamphetamine to other
individuals for resale. Id. at 32-33.
court then called upon the Assistant United States Attorney
to offer evidence in support of the proposed plea of guilty.
Proceeding by proffer, the prosecutor summarized the
government's evidence as follows:
Beginning around 2010 and continuing until at least March of
2014, an organized group of individuals engaged in a
conspiracy to distribute large amounts of methamphetamine in
the Western District of Virginia and elsewhere.
Ms. Snyder, the defendant here today, was part of this group
of individuals who was distributing methamphetamine during
this time period.
Ms. Snyder is charged with conspiracy to distribute
methamphetamine, and during her time period within it, she
was involved with several people, both in this indictment,
uncharged people, and also in the other indictment containing
the Perez brothers. She was involved with Silvano Perez
Coronado and Cristian Perez. She was also involved with James
Vivian Bedwell, Jason Mooney, Kent McPeak, Johnny Shipwash,
Robbie Cantrell, Robert Durrell and others.
The evidence would show that Ms. Snyder was being fronted
ounces and half pounds, up to pounds of methamphetamine, by
Silvano Perez Coronado during a time period and that his
brother Cristian Perez was the one who took over that portion
of the agreement.
This methamphetamine was coming via cars here from California
and prior to that, it was coming from Tijuana, Mexico and