United States v. Allmendinger, No. 17-6447 (4th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's denial of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Defendant was convicted of money laundering and other crimes that related to a fraudulent investment scheme. In this case, defendant's counsel failed to raise a significant and obvious merger issue that, if raised, likely would have resulted in the reversal of defendant's money laundering convictions. The court held that merger constituted a "clearly stronger" argument than the issues raised on direct appeal, and because appellate counsel did not identify any true strategic rationale for failing to raise merger, counsel's performance was deficient. Furthermore, the deficient performance caused defendant prejudice. Accordingly, defendant established ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland v. Washington. The court remanded for further proceedings.