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Eileen Iyer v. the United States of America

February 7, 2012

EILEEN IYER,
PETITIONER,
v.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Paul A. Crotty, United States District Judge:

USDC SDNY

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

DOC #:

OPINION & ORDER

On December 3, 2008, Eileen Iyer ("Iyer"), proceeding pro se, petitioned this Court, under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, to correct her sentence due to ineffective assistance of counsel. Iyer argues that defense counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and discover that her crime did not involve 50 or more victims, and failing to object to the resulting four-level guidelines range enhancement.

Iyer entered into a sentencing agreement with the Government which waived her right to appeal "or litigate under Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255. . . any sentence within or below the Stipulated Guidelines Range of 41 to 51 months' imprisonment." (Gov't Opp. Ex. C at 4.) Iyer was sentenced to 41 months' imprisonment. Further on two separate occasions, where under oath, Iyer said she was satisfied with the advice and counsel of her attorney. Her petition is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

On September 7, 2006, Iyer was charged in a two-count indictment with embezzling federal money, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641, and mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341. On December 10, 2007, Iyer pled guilty to both counts, without the benefit of a plea agreement.

Before her plea, Iyer acknowledged that she was satisfied with her lawyer's advice and the representation he had given to her. (See Gov't Opp. Ex. A at 5.) She reserved her right to challenge the various elements of the Pimentel letter. (See id. at 2.)

On February 20, 2008, the Probation Office issued a Presentence Investigation Report ("PSR"), calculating Iyer's guidelines range to be 63-78 months. (See Gov. Opp. Ex. B (the PSR) ¶ 77.) The PSR indicated that Iyer, an employee of Gold Crest, a nursing home, was responsible for collecting and recording all money that the Gold Crest residents received from the Social Security Administration and Medicare, and depositing a portion of that money into a Personal Needs Allowances bank account. (Id. PSR ¶ 10.) The PSR further indicated that Iyer wrote checks against the Personal Needs Allowances to pay her personal expenses. (Id. PSR ¶ 10.) The PSR indicated that "Iyer caused the residents of Gold Crest a loss amount totaling $536,528.03" and that the "offense involved 50 or more victims" who "by virtue of being in a nursing home, incapacitated by age and/or infirmity, were unable to handle their financial obligations." (Id. PSR ¶ 17.)

On February 29, 2008, the Government entered into a sentencing agreement with Iyer, which Iyer signed in open Court on April 22, 2008, stipulating to a guidelines range of 41-51 months' imprisonment. The stipulated guidelines range was lower than the PSR guidelines range because it excluded: (i) a two-level increase for an offense that involved vulnerable victims, under U.S.S.G. § 3A1.1(b)(1); and (ii) and a two-level enhancement based on Iyer's abuse of a position of trust under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.3. (See Gov't Opp. Ex. E at 3.) The stipulated guidelines range expressly retained the four-level enhancement for offenses involving more than fifty victims. (See Gov't Opp. Ex. C, at 2.) Additionally, the sentencing agreement expressly provided that Iyer waived her right to "file a direct appeal, []or litigate under Title 28, United States Code, Section 2255 . . . any sentence within or below the Stipulated Guidelines Range of 41 to 51 months' imprisonment." (See Gov't Opp. Ex. C at 4.)

The sentencing agreement nonetheless allowed either party to seek a sentence outside the stipulated guidelines range based on 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors. (Id. at 3-4.) Defense counselargued that Iyer should receive a sentence below the stipulated guidelines range because Iyer came from an abusive, troubled background, and her criminal behavior was consistent with mania. (See Gov't Mem., Ex. D.)

At the sentencing hearing on April 22, 2008, the Court asked and Iyer confirmed that she had an opportunity to review the sentencing agreement with her attorney and was satisfied with his advice. (See Gov't Mem., Ex. F at 3.) The Court specifically addressed the appellate waiver provision, and Iyer confirmed that she understood that if she was sentenced within the stipulated guideline range of 41 to 51 months she was agreeing not to appeal or attack the sentence in a collateral proceeding. (Id. at 4.) The Court then agreed to adopt the stipulated guidelines range as set forth in the sentencing agreement. (Id. at 6.) After addressing the various § 3553(a) factors and arguments raised by defense counsel, the Court sentenced Iyer to 41 months' imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $538,526.03. (Id. at 18.)

On July 18, 2008, the Government, following up on the restitution order, submitted a letter to the Court requesting that Iyer be ordered to pay restitution to the Social Security Administration, and to Gold Crest, resulting from ...


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