The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN KEENAN, Senior District Judge
Before the Court is Petitioner Helen Warren's pro se
application to vacate, set aside, or correct her sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and to reconsider her sentence
pursuant to Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 32 and 35. For
the reasons stated herein, the motions are denied.
Helen Warren ("Warren") and five co-conspirators were charged
in a two-count superseding indictment filed on February 7, 2002.
Warren was charged in Count One with conspiracy to distribute in
excess of one kilogram of heroin and five kilograms of cocaine,
in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 812, 841(a)(1), 841(b) (1) (A) and
846.*fn1 On July 1, 2002, Warren pleaded guilty before
Magistrate Judge Gorenstein, pursuant to a written plea
agreement. At this time, Warren was represented by her
court-appointed attorney, Aubrey Lees, Esq.
In the Plea Agreement, the parties stipulated that: (i)
Warren's base offense level was 36 pursuant to § 2D1.1(c)(2) of
the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("Guidelines" or "U.S.S.G.") because the offense involved the distribution of at
least ten but less than thirty kilograms of heroin; (ii) Warren
was eligible for relief from a statutory 10 year minimum sentence
and a two-level reduction pursuant to the "safety-valve,"
18 U.S.C. § 3553(f); U.S.S.G. §§ 2D1.1(b)(6)*fn2 and 5C1.2;
(iii) Warren received a two level reduction pursuant to U.S.S.G §
3E1.1(a) for acceptance of responsibility and a one level
reduction pursuant to § 3E1.1(b) for entering her plea in a
timely manner. Warren's resulting stipulated offense level was
31. The parties further stipulated that Warren had a Criminal
History Category of I. The resulting Guidelines range was 108 to
135 months' imprisonment.
The Plea Agreement also contained a waiver of Warren's right to appeal or
collaterally attack the sentence, provided that the sentence fell in the
stipulated Guidelines range. The agreement provided:
Neither a downward nor an upward departure is
warranted from the stipulated Sentencing Guidelines
range of 108 to 135 months. Neither party will seek a
departure from nor seek any adjustment to the range.
Neither party will suggest that the Probation
Department consider such a departure or adjustment,
or suggest that the Court sua sponte consider
such a departure or adjustment.
. . . .
The defendant will neither appeal, nor otherwise
collaterally attack her sentence provided that the Court imposes a sentence within the stipulated to
(Warren Br. at 5).
During the plea proceeding, Magistrate Judge Gorenstein
confirmed that Warren could speak, understand, and write English,
that she had never been hospitalized for narcotics addiction,
alcoholism, or mental illness, and that she was not presently
under the influence of any drug. (Plea Tr. at 2-3).*fn3
Warren also confirmed that she had discussed her case with her
attorney, Ms. Lees, and that she was satisfied with Ms. Lees's
representation. (Id. at 4). Warren stated that she understood
the penalties that she faced and the rights she would have had at
trial. (Id. at 5-7). She also confirmed that she understood
that she was giving up these rights by entering a guilty plea.
(Id. at 7).
The Magistrate then addressed the Plea Agreement. Warren
allocuted that she had not been induced to plead guilty by any
promises as to her sentence. (Id. at 8). She expressed her
understanding that Judge Schwartz would not be bound by the
stipulated range when imposing sentence, and that she would be
bound by her guilty plea no matter what sentence Judge Schwartz
ultimately imposed. (Id. at 8-9). Magistrate Judge Gorenstein
then specifically addressed Warren's understanding of the waiver
under the Plea Agreement: THE COURT: Now, do you understand that under the
terms of this plea agreement, if the judge sentences
you to a prison term that is no longer than the
maximum of this range, that is, no longer than 135
months, you are giving up your right to challenge
that through an appeal or through an attack on your
conviction or any other way.
Do you understand that, Miss?
After the Government recited the elements it would have had to
prove for conviction, Warren admitted the charged conduct. (Id.
at 11-13). She admitted to participating with others in the
transportation of more than one kilogram of heroin and more than
five kilograms of cocaine. (Id. at 12). This conduct subjected
Warren to a potential sentence of lifetime imprisonment and a
statutory minimum of 10 years. See 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A)(i),
(ii). Magistrate Judge Gorenstein concluded that Warren
understood the nature of the charge and the consequences of her
plea and that the plea was ...