U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has denied a motion to vacate or set aside the sentence she imposed on a man who pleaded guilty to “ice” distribution.
Manglona had sentenced Yu Hua Wang to 11 years and three months in prison. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.
In her order Monday last week, Manglona also certified that any appeal of her order would be deemed frivolous and would not be taken in good faith.
Wang, who was tagged by authorities as the second in command of an organization of drug suppliers on Saipan, was sentenced in May 2016.
Manglona said that Wang is clearly not entitled to relief in his claim of ineffective assistance and failure to assist him with getting adequate health care.
Robert T. Torres served as the court-appointed trial counsel for Wang. Wang appealed without counsel to the Ninth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit declined to address his claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and dismissed the remainder of his appeal.
Wang then filed the motion to set aside his sentence.
In denying Wang’s motion, Manglona said a paragraph of the presentence investigation report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office includes information from the authorities’ cooperating source.
The judge said failure to object to it was not unreasonable, given that the information does not relate to a separate crime, but is part of the investigation into the crime for which Wang was ultimately adjudged guilty.
Manglona added that the incident referred to in that paragraph is not the only reference to Wang’s criminal history. The final presentence investigation report details two more arrests for narcotics violations in 2011 and 2012.
Thus, the judge pointed out, that paragraph included a reference to Wang as involved in distribution of “ice” did not expose the court to new information that he was previously involved in drug trafficking, as the court also had knowledge of the 2011 and 2012 arrests and related proceedings.
In these circumstances, Manglona said, counsel’s failure to object to that paragraph was not unreasonable.
Moreover, Manglona said, the basis for judgment and sentence was the amount of drugs that the U.S. government proved from arranged buys between an undercover agent and Wang.
She said the amount totaled over 50 grams, which is sufficient to convict Wang for conspiracy to distribute over 50 grams of methamphetamine.
On Wang’s true mental condition issue, Manglona said Torres asked for a psychiatric exam, which the court granted.
The judge noted that the record demonstrates that Torres responded to Wang’s complaints of severe headaches and pain, and inability to understand documents being translated to him.
“Counsel therefore did not act unreasonably,” she
With respect to Wang’s claim of unreasonable sentence, Manglona said Wang has not articulated why his sentence is more severe due to his status as a deportable alien, stating only that he should have received “six months off the top.”
Manglona said that without any evidence that his sentence was unreasonably high due to his status as a deportable alien, Wang has failed to demonstrate prejudice from his attorney’s failure to seek a downward departure of sentence based on his status.
Wang’s co-defendant, Xing Bo Fang, pleaded guilty to the same offense. In May 2016, Manglona sentenced Fang to three years and five months imprisonment.
According to the factual basis of the plea agreement, Fang sold about 98.7 grams of methamphetamine to a confidential source of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Dec. 27, 2013, at Wang’s instruction. The source later gave Wang $8,500 in “buy money.”
Fang himself personally handed the drug and handed it over to the DEA confidential source.
Before that, on Nov. 18, 2013, Fang sold 14.6 grams of “ice” to the same DEA confidential source for $2,700.