United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING MOTION TO
WITHDRAW GUILTY PLEA
N. Parrish United States District Court Judge.
a criminal case. Toheed Ahmed pleaded guilty to possession
with intent to distribute methamphetamine. After doing so, he
moved to withdraw his guilty plea. Mr. Ahmed contends that
his plea was not knowing and voluntary because his former
counsel failed to explain to him various aspects of the plea
agreement. Specifically, Mr. Ahmed claims he was led to
believe that he would receive credit for time served when, in
fact, he would not. The Government opposes Mr. Ahmed's
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Ahmed was arrested on August 26, 2015, when South Salt Lake
City police officers found cocaine and methamphetamine in his
car. See Hearing Tr. 42:7-11 (Sep. 13, 2017). The
State of Utah did not file new charges. Id. at
42:12-13. But at the time of his arrest, Mr. Ahmed was on
parole from two state court convictions. Id. at
39:20-40:9. And Mr. Ahmed admitted to technical parole
violation: not having a job, staying out past curfew, and
associating with a felon. Id. at 40:10-41:7,
43:17-20. Because of this, the State of Utah revoked Mr.
Ahmed's parole and placed him in primary state custody.
Id. at 40:10-13.
The Federal Indictment
January 13, 2016, while Mr. Ahmed was in state custody, the
United States charged him with possession with intent to
distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute
methamphetamine. ECF No. 1 at 1. Because Mr. Ahmed was in
state custody, this court issued a writ of habeas corpus ad
prosequendum to the U.S. Marshals Service, ordering it to
bring Mr. Ahmed to court for his arraignment on the pending
federal charges. ECF No. 10 at 1.
Ahmed was arraigned on February 4, 2016. At the arraignment,
he elected to remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals,
pursuant to the writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. ECF
No. 23 at 1. According to Mr. Ahmed, he elected to stay in
the custody of the U.S. Marshals because he believed that
this would allow him to receive credit for time served:
“I [wanted] to go into federal custody, you know, get
my federal time started so I can get credit time served
[sic].” Hearing Tr. 44:17-45:5 (Sep. 13, 2017). More
precisely, Mr. Ahmed believed that the Bureau of Prisons
would credit the time he spent in the custody of the U.S.
Marshals to his yet-to-be-imposed federal sentence. See
Id. But he was mistaken. Id.
Ahmed was in the custody of the U.S. Marshals pursuant to a
writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum. And “[p]roducing
a state prisoner under writ of habeas corpus ad prosequendum
to answer federal charges does not relinquish state
custody.” Chambers v. Holland, 920 F.Supp.
618, 622 (M.D. Pa. 1996). As such, Mr. Ahmed remained in
state primary custody, even though he was “on
loan” to the U.S. Marshals. See Sinito v.
Kindt, 954 F.2d 467, 469 (7th Cir. 1992) (per curiam)
(“The issuance of the writ of habeas corpus ad
prosequendum did not alter [the defendant's] custody
status. It merely changed the location of his custody for the
sentence he was already serving.”). Because Mr. Ahmed
was (and is) in primary state custody based on parole
violations, the Bureau of Prisons is statutorily prohibited
from crediting him the time served on those violations to his
yet-to-be-imposed federal sentence. See 18 U.S.C.
§ 3585(b) (“A defendant shall be given credit
toward the service of a term of imprisonment for any time he
has spent in official detention prior to the date the
sentence commences . . . that has not been credited
against another sentence.” (emphasis added)). In
sum, the time Mr. Ahmed was (and is) serving is on account of
state parole violations, and thus the Bureau of Prisons
cannot credit it to a federal sentence.
point when he was in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, Mr.
Ahmed learned that the Bureau of Prison could not credit the
time he was serving to his yet-to-be-imposed federal
sentence. Hearing Tr. 44:17-45:5 (Sep. 13, 2017). According
to Mr. Ahmed, his attorney at the time, Audrey James, told
him that “it didn't matter where [he] did the
time[;] it would be up to the Judge to give [him credit for
time served].” Id. After learning this, Mr.
Ahmed filed a motion asking the court to transfer him from
the custody of the U.S. Marshals back into state custody. ECF
No. 23 at 1. The court granted Mr. Ahmed's motion on May
11, 2016. ECF No. 25.
The Motion to Suppress
7, 2016, Mr. Ahmed filed a motion to suppress. ECF No. 30. On
July 19, 2016, he amended the motion to include more detail.
ECF No. 33. But on July 27, 2016, the court ordered Mr. Ahmed
to refile the motion because he had not stated with
particularity and in summary form a list of the issues raised
as grounds for the motion. ECF No. 36 at 1 (citing D.U. Civ.
August 3, 2016, Alexander Ramos entered a substitution of
counsel, replacing Ms. James as counsel for Mr. Ahmed. ECF
No. 37. On the same day, Mr. Ahmed filed his second amended
motion to suppress. ECF No. 38. Mr. Ahmed argued that the
cocaine and methamphetamine found in his car should be
suppressed as the fruit of an illegal search. ECF No. 38 at
3-4. Adam Bridge filed a notice of appearance as co-counsel
on behalf of Mr. Ahmed on October 26, 2016. ECF No. 43.
court held an evidentiary hearing on November 21, 2016. ECF
No. 58. Two South Salt Lake City police officers testified at
the hearing. ECF No. 52 at 6. The first officer testified
that, on the day of the arrest, he saw Mr. Ahmed driving on
the shoulder of the road. Hearing Tr. 11:25-13:18 (Nov. 21,
2016). According to the officer, Mr. Ahmed entered an
intersection from the shoulder and later
“swerve[d]” out of the shoulder without
signaling. Id. at 12:21-15:7.
observing these traffic violations (i.e., improper
use of lanes and changing lanes without signaling), the
officer stopped Mr. Ahmed's car. Id. at 15:8-15.
As he approached the car, the officer saw that the license
plate and registration information were not visible because
the license plate was “fixed high inside the
license-plate bracket.” Id. at 19:22-20:4. The
officer saw Mr. Ahmed in the car with two female passengers.
Id. at 23:11-16. As the officer moved closer, he saw
one of the female passengers “dousing herself in
cologne.” Id. at 23:17-22. She then opened the
back-right door and tried to exit the car. Id. at
23:23-24:15. The officer recognized the female passenger as a
known drug user and told her to stay in the car; she
complied. Id. at 24:6-24.
officer approached the driver-side widow, Mr. Ahmed rolled up
the window and spoke to the two female passengers.
Id. at 24:25-25:9. Mr. Ahmed finished the
conversation and then rolled down the window to speak to the
officer. Id. at 25:3-11. Mr. Ahmed told the officer
that he had just purchased the car and he had not yet
registered it. Id. at 25:20-26:14. Mr. Ahmed gave
his license to the officer, who ran it and found that Mr.
Ahmed did not have any outstanding warrants. Id. at
27:3-28:12. But the officer discovered that the license plate
on the car belonged to someone else and that Mr. Ahmed had
not begun the process of registering the car. Id. at
the officer first made contact with the car, he had observed
that one of the female passengers was not wearing a seat
belt. Id. at 28:17-29:1. Because of this, the
officer decided to issue her a citation. Id. at
29:2-4. When the officer asked for the female passenger's
name, she gave a false name. Id. at 32:9-33:25.
After discovering this, the officer arrested her for giving
false information to a police officer. Id. at
33:15-34:11. It took the officer almost half an hour to
determine the female passenger's actual name.
Id. at 34:6-11.
the first officer was trying to figure out the female
passenger's identity, the second officer on the scene ran
a drug dog around the car. Id. at 36:3-37:14. The
dog alerted to the presence of drugs. Id. at
37:15-20. After the dog alerted, the officers searched the
car. Id. at 38:5-7. One of the officers found drug
paraphernalia in the center console. Id. at 38:8-18.
The officer also found syringes in the front pocket of a
backpack located behind the driver's seat. Id.
at 39:4-24. In the backpack, the officer found cocaine,
methamphetamine, and about $6, 400 in cash. Id. at
40:8-41:1. After discovering the drugs, the officers arrested
the occupants of the car and obtained a search warrant.
Id. at 43:19-24. The car was towed to the South Salt
Lake Police Department, and once there, one of the officers
searched the trunk of the vehicle, discovering about 2, 000
grams of methamphetamine. Id. at 43:13-44:23.
the evidentiary hearing, the parties briefed the motion to
suppress. ECF Nos. 61, 62, 66. On March 23, 3017, the court
denied the motion. ECF No. 76 at 1. The court held that the
traffic stop was justified at its inception and that the
officers' actions were reasonably related to the
circumstances justifying the stop. Id. Specifically,
the initial stop was justified at because Mr. Ahmed committed
at least two traffic violations. Id. The officers
reasonably extended the stop based on the license-plate and
seatbelt violations. Id. And the officer reasonably
extended the stop again when one of the female passengers
gave a false name. Id. The dog sniff was performed
during the course of the investigation and did not extend the
stop. Id. When the dog alerted to the presence of
drugs, the officers had probable cause to search the vehicle,
which they did. Id. at 16.