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United States v. Wiggins

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

March 25, 2015



LANCE M. AFRICK, District Judge.

Before the Court is a motion[1] filed by defendant, Monterio Wiggins ("Wiggins"), to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The government filed an opposition.[2] For the following reasons, the Court finds that an evidentiary hearing is not required, the motion is DENIED, and defendant's post-conviction application is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.


I. Third Superseding Indictment

On January 27, 2012, Wiggins was charged in counts 1, 2, 5, 12, 13, 14, and 19 of a 22count third superseding indictment alleging numerous violations of the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization ("RICO") Act, the Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering Act, the Federal Gun Control Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and other federal criminal laws.[3] As discussed below, Wiggins eventually pleaded guilty to counts 1, 2, and 5.

Count 1 charged a RICO conspiracy to participate in a criminal enterprise known as the "Harvey Hustlers, " and its enforcement faction, the "Murder Squad."[4] Count 2 charged that Wiggins conspired with his co-defendants and others to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base ("crack").[5] Count 5 charged that Wiggins conspired with his co-defendants and others, during and in relation to a crime of violence and drug trafficking crimes, to use and carry firearms, and possess firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence and drug trafficking crimes as alleged in the third superseding indictment.[6]

II. Competency Hearing

On January 17, 2013, Wiggins' counsel filed a motion to determine Wiggins' mental competency.[7] According to Wiggins' attorney, Majeeda Snead ("Snead"), "[i]n discussions with Mr. Wiggins, there are times when he is not very communicative and even when he is communicative, undersigned counsel is unsure if he fully understands the substance of the conversation."[8] Trial was scheduled to commence on January 28, 2013.[9] Accordingly, the Court granted the motion, and Wiggins was examined by Dr. Rene Culver on January 23, 2013, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4241, with a report provided to the Court and counsel on the following day and a competency hearing held on January 25, 2013.[10]

At the competency hearing, Dr. Culver's report was filed into the record under seal without objection.[11] Dr. Culver testified at the competency hearing that he "examined the defendant for an hour and 15 minutes, " "reviewed various legal documents [including] the criminal history, certified convictions, something called factual basis, and the third superseding indictment, " and "examined the records made available to me by his counsel, Mrs. Snead, [which] were very extensive records. About half of them were psychiatric records and about half of them were educational records."[12] With respect to the documents, Dr. Culver testified that he received a file of records that was "between a foot and 16 inches" thick, [13] and that although he "couldn't read every single word" of the educational records because of the short amount of time he had to conduct his review, he "read all the psychiatric records" and didn't "think [he] missed anything of substance."[14] Dr. Culver stated that the educational records "all said pretty much the same thing and I would sometimes skip over it and read, say, what he was doing in the next grade and the next grade and so forth just to get a sample of what was going on."[15]

Dr. Culver testified that Wiggins had "borderline" intellectual functioning, but that he was not mentally retarded.[16] Dr. Culver also testified that Wiggins "claimed not to know things that I cannot believe he would not know, "[17] but "by the time this was over it was obvious he simply was not being straightforward with me because these are things that he would have no reason not to know[, ] like his own middle name or his nickname."[18] Dr. Culver also noted that Wiggins "gave very contradictory answers on other occasions."[19] For example, Wiggins first claimed "that he had never had inpatient psychiatric treatment, " but later he "gave a completely different answer" and admitted that he had been hospitalized at River Oaks.[20] Dr. Culver emphasized that he found "[n]o evidence of a thought disorder, no evidence of psychosis. And that oppositional behavior, I've said, I've quoted him many times saying, I don't know, I don't remember.' And this is - it's a behavioral problem that has been present throughout his lifetime."[21]

Dr. Culver advised the Court that Wiggins was in control of his behavior, [22] and Dr. Culver testified on cross-examination that there was no mental illness that contributed to Wiggins' behavior; Wiggins was being willfully dishonest and uncommunicative.[23] Dr. Culver gave an ultimate diagnosis of substance abuse, [24] antisocial personality disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning.[25] Based on his examination of Wiggins and his review of the records, Dr. Culver concluded that Wiggins was competent to proceed.[26]

The Court found that "Dr. Culver has a well reasoned opinion with respect to the competency of this defendant and [that] his testimony [was] persuasive and credible."[27] No other evidence was presented at the competency hearing. Accordingly, based on Dr. Culver's testimony, "as well as... the voluminous records that were examined by Dr. Culver, I find that the defendant is not presently suffering from a mental disease or defect which would render him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense."[28]

III. Rearraignment

On January 28, 2013, three days after the competency hearing, Wiggins appeared before the Court to plead guilty to counts 1, 2, and 5 pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement.[29] The Court again found Wiggins to be competent.[30] The Court emphasized to Wiggins that he did not have to plead guilty, as the Court had been advised that Wiggins had "wavered before on whether or not you want to plead guilty."[31] Wiggins repeatedly admitted to the factual basis and stated that he was pleading guilty because he was in fact guilty.[32] He admitted that he and a ...

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