United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
CHRISTOPHER A. SEIFER, Petitioner,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Respondent.
Stadtmueller, U.S. District Judge.
19, 2014, Petitioner Christopher A. Seifer
(“Seifer”) was convicted by a jury of four counts
of mail fraud and one count of theft of government property.
On September 19, 2014, Seifer was sentenced to fifteen months
imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised
release. (Docket #1 at 2). After his direct appeal concluded,
Seifer filed a motion to vacate his sentence pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 2255 on November 1, 2016. See generally
Id. Respondent opposed the motion on May 3, 2017.
(Docket #24). Seifer offered a reply on May 15, 2017. (Docket
#27). For the reasons explained below, Seifer's motion
must be denied.
opinion on Seifer's direct appeal, the Seventh Circuit
succinctly described the basic facts of his case:
Seifer worked for the Bureau of Prisons at the Federal
Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin. He injured his
back on the job, and the Department of Labor's Office of
Workers' Compensation Programs [(“OWCP”)]
determined that he had a permanent work-related disability.
This designation entitled him to reimbursement for travel
expenses incurred for medical treatments. To obtain
reimbursement Seifer completed and submitted a form OWCP-957.
A private administrator, Xerox, processed these forms and
issued Seifer reimbursement checks for trips to health clubs
and gyms, where he reportedly was using heated pools to
rehabilitate his back.
From March 2006 to October 2012, Seifer submitted more than
1, 300 reimbursement claims for travel to facilities with
pools. Most of these claims were false. At the Prairie
Athletic Club, for example, his reimbursement forms show 858
visits between March 2006 and August 2009, yet his key card
was swiped only 17 times. At another club, Adventure 212,
Seifer was not a member from February through April 2011, but
during those months he purportedly had traveled to the club
and used the pool 37 times. Overall, Seifer netted more than
$80, 000 from his fraudulent travel claims.
United States v. Seifer, 800 F.3d 328, 329 (7th Cir.
instant motion offers two different theories as to why his
trial counsel, Louis Sirkin (“Sirkin”), provided
him ineffective legal assistance. First, Seifer contends that
Sirkin failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into his
defense. (Docket #1 at 6). Specifically, Seifer argues that
Sirkin should have interviewed his wife, Cynthia Seifer
(“Cynthia”), his stepson, Kevin Kern
(“Kern”), and his neighbor, Dominic Ferraro
(“Ferraro”), because each could have provided at
least some corroboration of Seifer's testimony about
making the therapy trips. (Docket #1-2 at 1-3; Docket #2 at
6-7). Second, Seifer maintains that Sirkin should have called
each of these witnesses at trial to provide that testimony to
the jury. (Docket #1 at 7). Seifer also alleges that Sirkin
should have offered evidence of his automobile mileage during
the relevant period as another potential source of
corroboration. (Docket #1-2 at 3-4).
Court of Appeal's Blake opinion neatly
summarizes the standards applicable to Seifer's motion:
A party asserting ineffective assistance of counsel bears the
burden of establishing two elements: (1) that his trial
counsel's performance fell below objective standards for
reasonably effective representation, and (2) that
counsel's deficiency prejudiced the defense.
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687-88 . . .
To satisfy the first element of the Strickland test,
appellant must direct the Court to specific acts or omissions
by his counsel. In that context, the Court considers whether
in light of all the circumstances counsel's performance
was outside the wide range of professionally competent
assistance. The Court's assessment of counsel's
performance is “highly deferential[, ] . . .
indulg[ing] a strong presumption that counsel's conduct
falls within the wide range of reasonable professional
assistance[.]” [Id. at 689.]
. . .
To satisfy the second Strickland element, appellant
must show that there is a reasonable probability that, but
for counsel's errors, the result of the proceedings would
have been different, such that the proceedings were
fundamentally unfair or unreliable. A reasonable probability
is defined as one that is sufficient to undermine confidence
in an outcome.
Blake v. United States, 723 F.3d 870, 878-79 (7th
Cir. 2013) (citations and quotations ...