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State v. Ashraf

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth District, Muskingum

May 30, 2017

STATE OF OHIO Plaintiff-Appellee
v.
WAQAR ASHRAF Defendant-Appellant

         Criminal Appeal from the Court of Common Pleas, Case No. CR2014-0327

          For Plaintiff-Appellee D. MICHAEL HADDOX PROSECUTING ATTORNEY GERALD V. ANDERSON II ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR

          For Defendant-Appellant DAVID A. SAMS

          Hon. Patricia A. Delaney, P. J. Hon. John W. Wise, J. Hon. Earle E. Wise, Jr., J.

          OPINION

          Wise, John, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-Appellant Waqar Ashraf appeals the decision of the Court of Common Pleas, Muskingum County, which denied his petition for post-conviction relief and additional motion to set aside his 2015 plea on multiple counts of illegal food stamp use and drug trafficking. Appellee is the State of Ohio. The relevant procedural facts leading to this appeal are as follows:

         {¶2} On October 22, 2014, appellant, a citizen of Pakistan, was indicted by the Muskingum County Grand Jury on thirty-six counts of illegal use of food stamp benefits (R.C. 2913.46(B)) and thirteen counts of trafficking in drugs (R.C. 2925.03(A)(1)).

         {¶3} On March 2, 2015, appellant entered guilty pleas to twenty counts of illegal use of food stamp benefits, as well as separate counts of trafficking in drugs (oxycodone, percocet) with a school specification, trafficking in drugs (marijuana), trafficking in drugs (oxycodone, oxycontin) with a school specification, trafficking in drugs (methamphetamine) with a school specification, trafficking in drugs (cocaine) with a school/juvenile specification, and trafficking in drugs (alprazolam) with a school specification.

         {¶4} Appellant was sentenced on April 17, 2015 to an aggregate term of incarceration of seventy-one months.

         {¶5} On September 14, 2015, appellant filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming he had been insufficiently advised that if he entered a guilty plea he could face deportation.

         {¶6} On September 25, 2015, the trial court denied appellant's petition without conducting a hearing.

          {¶7} Appellant then appealed to this Court, raising four assigned errors. Upon review, this Court noted that when a trial court denies a petition for post-conviction relief without a hearing, it is statutorily required to issue findings of fact and conclusions of law (R.C. 2953.21(G)). We then determined that the judgment entry of denial of September 25, 2015 was insufficient to comply with this requirement. The judgment was therefore reversed and the case was remanded to the trial court with instructions to render written findings of fact and conclusions of law. See State v. Ashraf, 5th Dist. Muskingum No. CT2015-0052, 2015-Ohio-5323.

         {¶8} Following said remand, the trial court instead scheduled a hearing for March 14, 2016, although it was apparently thereafter continued. In addition, on March 17, 2016, the trial court appointed defense counsel for appellant.

         {¶9} On April 22, 2016, appellant, with the assistance of counsel, filed a "motion to set aside plea." Appellant therein asserted that had he known at the time in question that entering his guilty plea made his deportation "certain and imminent" under federal law, he never would have agreed to enter his guilty pleas. On April 25, 2016, the trial court conducted a hearing on both the petition for post-conviction relief and the motion to set aside plea.

         {¶10} On June 7, 2016, the trial court issued a five-paragraph judgment entry denying both of appellant's motions.

         {¶11} Appellant filed a notice of appeal on June 13, 2016. He herein raises the ...


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