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Ellwart v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

May 23, 2019

JONAS ELLWART, Petitioner,



         Jonas Ellwart has filed a motion for post-conviction relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 to challenge the sentence he received after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. He contends that his counsel was constitutionally ineffective by (1) refusing to let him see discovery; (2) giving him the wrong legal advice about the amount of prison time he faced by pleading guilty; and (3) telling him not to withdraw his plea at sentencing after learning that his maximum supervised release term was life, not three years as stated in the plea agreement.

         I am denying Ellwart's motion because he has failed to show that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. I am also denying as moot the government's motion for an order that Ellwart waived his attorney-client privilege for the purpose of litigating his § 2255 motion. Dkt. 2. I do not need to review a declaration from Ellwart's counsel to resolve this case.


         Ellwart was involved in a large-scale conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine in Wausau, Wisconsin. He entered into a written plea agreement with the government, agreeing to plead guilty to the one-count indictment. Dkt. 42 in 16-cr-70-jdp-2. That count carried a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and maximum term of supervised release of life. The plea agreement included a provision stating that Ellwart “acknowledges his understanding that the Court is not required to accept any recommendations which may be made by the United States and that the Court can impose any sentence up to and including the maximum penalties set out above.” Id.

         At the January 25, 2017 plea hearing, I discussed with Ellwart what expectations he had, if any, as to the sentence that he might receive. I confirmed with Ellwart that his counsel had discussed with him the possibility of receiving the maximum penalties applying to the offense. Dkt. 85 in 16-cr-70-jdp-2 at 7. I explained how Ellwart's guideline range under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines would be calculated and that I would consider his guideline range as one factor in determining his sentence. Id. at 8-10. Then, I asked Ellwart a series of questions to confirm that his plea was knowing and voluntary. Ellwart acknowledged that he understood the terms of the agreement, including the rights he was giving up by pleading guilty and that he would not be free to withdraw his guilty plea, even if I decided not to follow the government's recommendations regarding sentencing. Id. at 11-14, 17. The government then summarized the evidence that would be offered at trial to prove Ellwart's guilt, including that Ellwart bought methamphetamine from Kyle Quintana and Anthony Rogers and sold it to others, that Ellwart controlled access to Quintana's stash house, and that Ellwart went to Minnesota with Rogers to purchase methamphetamine. Id. at 19-21. After the government's recitation of the evidence, Ellwart's counsel acknowledged that the government would be able to prove facts at trial showing that Ellwart was involved in the drug conspiracy. Id. at 23-24.

         I then asked Ellwart to explain in his own words what happened. Ellwart stated that he owed Quintana money so he started doing “errands for him [like] watch[ing] his dog and giv[ing] him rides places.” Id. at 25. Ellwart then said that he “didn't know exactly why [Quintana] was going to those places, but I kind of had an idea of what he was doing and [he] still decided to assist him with it.” Id. I asked follow-up questions regarding Ellwart's involvement in the drug conspiracy:

Court: [W]hen you say you “had an idea, ” what did you think [Kyle Quintana] was doing?
Ellwart: Like, I kind of figured he was selling methamphetamine, but I wasn't--I didn't never ask him about it, but I was pretty positive that's what he was doing.
Court: Okay Ellwart: And I rode with Kayla Harris and [Anthony] Rogers one time. Kayla Harris asked me if I wanted to ride with. They were going to Minneapolis, and she said that she was getting a set of rims for her truck for giving Rogers a ride there, so I was like, sure, I'll ride with.
Court: Okay. Did you know what the purpose of the trip was other than the rims?
Ellwart: Yeah. I figured so.
Court: Okay. And what was that purpose?
Ellwart: So Rogers could pick up methamphetamine. Other than that, I would watch Kyle [Quintana's] dogs, and he would give me methamphetamine for ...

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