Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Diveroli: Ovewhelming evidence defeats claim of ineffective plea advice

In Diveroli v. U.S., No. 14-11576 (Oct. 9, 2015), the Court rejected a § 2255 claim of a defendant convicted of fraud, who claimed that his attorney miscalculated his potential sentencing exposure and thereby caused him to plead guilty when instead he would have gone to trial. Diveroli claimed that his attorney told him that his sentencing exposure was 168-210 months, based on a loss amount up to $30 million, when in fact the exposure was 63-70 months under a correct loss amount, and that he would have proceeded to trial had it not been for the incorrect advice. The Court first dismissed the § 2255 appeal by Diveroli’s corporation, pointing out that § 2255 relief is limited to a prisoner in custody, and a corporation cannot be held in custody. Turning to Diverolis’ claim, the Court found that overwhelming evidence established that Diveroli was guilty of making false statements to conceal the Chinese origin of weapons he was selling to the United States Army. His defense was “patently frivolous.” Therefore, “Diveroli could not establish that it would have been rational to reject [the] plea agreement given its favorable terms and his near-certain conviction.”