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United States v. Riggs

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Big Stone Gap Division

March 11, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
STEVEN RIGGS, Defendant.

          Zachary T. Lee, Assistant United States Attorney, Abingdon, Virginia, for United States; Steven Riggs, Defendant Pro Se.

          OPINION

          JAMES P. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The defendant, Steven Riggs, proceeding pro se, has filed a motion seeking relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The United States has filed a motion to dismiss, to which the movant has responded. For the reasons stated, I will grant the motion to dismiss and dismiss the § 2255 motion.

         On May 3, 2010, Riggs pleaded guilty without a plea agreement to one count of conspiring to distribute oxycodone, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C) and 846. Riggs admitted to repeatedly driving from Virginia to Florida with other individuals to illegally obtain oxycodone and then bringing the oxycodone back to southwest Virginia, where much of it was distributed.

         Prior to his sentencing, Riggs lodged numerous objections to the Presentence Investigation Report (“PSR”). Pertinent to the instant § 2255 motion, he argued that the offenses described in paragraphs 112 and 113 of the PSR were “relevant conduct” and that he should not have received criminal history points for those offenses. Paragraph 112 listed a conviction for two counts of forging a public record in Wise County, Virginia on August 1, 2008. Paragraph 113 listed several charges for conduct occurring in Scott County, Virginia, on January 7, 2009. The offenses of which Riggs was convicted included driving on a revoked license, speeding, forging a public document, identity theft, and obstruction of justice. Riggs had been stopped for speeding and had shown the police officer a Tennessee driver's license identifying himself as William J. Altizer. He had also signed the summons with that name.

         A sentencing hearing was held on June 21, 2011, during which Riggs testified at length. Riggs was represented by retained counsel at sentencing. Regarding paragraphs 112 and 113 of the PSR, Riggs testified as follows:

Q There are some charges on your PSR where you had given false identities. What was the purpose of giving false identities?
A Well, . . . I've had a lot of speeding tickets, and my license was suspended at the time, and being that I usually had drugs in my possession there were a couple of cases that I had someone else's ID in my possession in case I did get pulled over.
Q You wanted to avoid detection?
A Well, I mean, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to be pulled over for speeding and not have a license, which I did do that. I would use the alternate identities in case I did get pulled over. I didn't want the police searching my car and finding a bunch of drugs in my possession.

Sentencing Hr'g Tr. 147, ECF No. 400.

         In his Sentencing Memorandum, Riggs asserted,

In order to avoid detection for possessing Oxycontin, Riggs gave fraudulent information and false identification as a perceived lesser charge as opposed to being arrested and searched and found to be in possession of these drugs he would have been charged with possession of oxycontin or possession with the intent to distribute oxycontin.

         Sentencing Mem. 37, ECF No. 406. “Riggs contends that these events occurred to avoid detection, and thus are appropriately ...


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