were known to him no later than at the close of sentencing, when his counsel completed work on his case. Having been thus placed in the possession of all of the facts relating to his attorney's alleged ineffective representation, it is not sufficient for Rodriguez to justify a failure to raise this claim on direct appeal by his alleged reliance on that same counsel's advice that there were no appealable issues. See Petitioner's Brief in support of motion to vacate at 2-3 ("Petitioner's Br.").
In any event, Rodriguez has failed to allege facts sufficient to support a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The standards governing ineffective assistance claims are well settled. The defendant must: (1) overcome a strong presumption that his counsel's conduct was reasonable and show that his counsel's representation fell below "an objective standard of reasonableness" under "prevailing professional norms;" and (2) "affirmatively prove prejudice," that is, show that "but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different." Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-94, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674, 104 S. Ct. 2052 (1984); see also United States v. Aguirre, 912 F.2d 555, 560 (2d Cir. 1990), cert. denied 111 S. Ct. 59 (1990); United States v. Reiter, 897 F.2d 639, 644-45 (2d Cir. 1990); United States v. Bari, 750 F.2d 1169, 1182 (2d Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 472 U.S. 1019 (1985).
Although Rodriguez alleges that his attorney's advice to plead guilty was unreasonable in several respects, the Court finds these claims to be without merit for the following reasons. First, Rodriguez claims that he was not told of the consequences of his plea. Petitioner's Br. at 1. However, Rodriguez was clearly advised of the consequences of his plea by the court. See Plea Tr. at 4. It follows that Rodriguez's knowing and voluntary decision to proceed with the plea despite the five year mandatory minimum demonstrates that his decision to plead guilty was not based on ignorance of the applicable penalties.
Second, Rodriguez argues that counsel's advice to plead guilty was ineffective because he would not have faced penalties any more severe had he gone to trial. Petitioner's Br. at 1, 3, 6. That contention is simply incorrect. As a result of the plea, Rodriguez was awarded a two-point reduction for acceptance of responsibility as well as a two-point reduction for Rodriguez's minor role in the offense. These reductions might not have been available had Rodriguez gone to trial. Without the four-point reduction, Rodriguez's guidelines range would have been seventy-eight to ninety-seven months,
well in excess of the five-year mandatory minimum. Therefore, Rodriguez's counsel's advice to plead guilty in order to benefit from a reduced guidelines range was reasonable and cannot properly be the basis of an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
Finally, although Rodriguez contends that the advice to plead guilty failed to account for viable trial defenses available to him, Petitioner's Br. at 6, he has failed to identify any defense that his counsel improperly overlooked. Rodriguez admitted at his guilty plea that he had knowledge of the conspiracy, that he participated in it, and that he had a financial stake in its successful completion. See Plea Tr. 7-8. Accordingly, counsel's conclusion that Rodriguez was unlikely to prevail at trial was reasonable.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to dismiss the petition and close the above-captioned action.
It is SO ORDERED.
Dated: New York, New York
February 19, 1993
John E. Sprizzo
United States District Judge