from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Arthur E.
Gamble (guilty plea) and Robert J. Blink (sentencing),
Cordero appeals from his conviction on one count of
conspiracy to commit forgery.
C. Audlehelm of Audlehelm Law Office, Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Darrel Mullins, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
Cordero appeals from his conviction on one count of
conspiracy to commit forgery, a class "D" felony,
in violation of Iowa Code sections 706.1, 706.3(2) (2016).
Cordero contends his counsel rendered ineffective assistance
by allowing him to plead guilty without a factual basis for
the charge. Because the record establishes a sufficient
factual basis for his plea, we affirm.
ineffective-assistance-of-counsel claim may be reviewed on
direct appeal only if the record is sufficient to resolve the
claim; otherwise, it is preserved for postconviction-relief
purposes. See State v. Straw, 709 N.W.2d 128, 133
(Iowa 2006). The record here is sufficient to resolve
Cordero's claim. We review claims of ineffective
assistance of counsel de novo. See State v. Clay,
824 N.W.2d 488, 494 (Iowa 2012). To show his counsel was
deficient, Cordero must prove by a preponderance of the
evidence that counsel failed to perform an essential duty and
prejudice resulted. See Dempsey v. State, 860 N.W.2d
860, 868 (Iowa 2015).
determine if trial counsel failed in an essential duty by
allowing a defendant to plead guilty when the charges lack a
factual basis, the entire record before the district court
may be examined. See State v. Finney, 834 N.W.2d 46,
62 (Iowa 2013). The examination of the defendant's
statements and the minutes of evidence is appropriate to
determine whether there existed an objective factual basis
for a guilty plea. See id.; Schminkey, 597
N.W.2d at 788. "At the time of the guilty plea, the
record must disclose facts to satisfy all elements of the
offense." Rhoades v. State, 848 N.W.2d 22, 29
(Iowa 2014). If no factual basis is found in the record for
the charges the defendant has pled guilty to, then an
essential duty has been breached and "[p]rejudice is
inherent." State v. Gines, 844 N.W.2d 437, 441
case arises from an attempt to cash a forged check at a bank.
The following can be gleaned from the minutes of evidence.
Police were contacted by a bank employee who described a man
attempting to cash a forged check. When police arrived at the
bank, a man matching the bank employee's description was
observed running in the parking lot and getting into a silver
four-door sedan with Florida license plates. Police officers
stopped the vehicle and detained the occupants, identified by
their Florida driver's licenses as: Alfredo Penalver,
Lazaro Taboada-Diaz, and Yosley Cordero. A subsequent search
resulted in police discovering $1437.00 in cash on
Taboada-Diaz. A hotel keycard was found on Cordero.
recovered the forged check and a fake Texas driver's
license from the bank. The driver's license was in the
name of "Aldo Espinosa, " with a photo of Penalver.
The forged check was on the account of "Ocean Moving and
Storage Corp GA Account" and made payable to "Aldo
Espinosa" in the amount of $6400. Bank employees stated
that they had attempted to delay Penalver from leaving the
bank once police had been contacted but that he had become
suspicious and left the Texas license in the lobby when he
ran outside prior to the police officers arriving.
Penalver, Taboada-Diaz, and Cordero were being detained, a
blue mini-van with Florida plates drove up. The three
occupants got out. Emilio De La Paz Jr. and Pedro Lopez, said
they were friends of the detainees, and Alejandra
Gonzalez-Lopez advised officers that she was
Taboada-Diaz's wife. The three were identified by their
Florida driver's licenses. They were also detained and
subsequently searched, resulting in the discovery of $5186.50
in cash on De La Paz Jr. and a hotel key found on Lopez from
the same hotel as the key found on Cordero.
spoke to the owner of Ocean Moving and Storage Corp, who
stated that he had not authorized the check in question. He
also stated he had been the victim of several prior incidents
of forged checks being cashed.
investigation showed the six had stayed at a nearby hotel in
three rooms under Lopez's name. Search warrants were
obtained for the three hotel rooms, the two vehicles, as well
as all of the detained individuals' cell phones. Inside
one of the hotel rooms, a notepad was found containing
practice signatures for "Aldo E, " the same
signature that was located on the fake Texas driver's
license of "Aldo Espinosa." A separate notepad was
found in one of the other rooms detailing what appeared to be
a breakdown of the illicit proceeds from a forged check
Alejandra Gonzalez-Lopez cashed in Minnesota. In the
sedan's glove compartment, an additional five checks were
found on the accounts of Ocean Moving and Storage Corp GA
Account, Northstar Moving Transportation Co, and SERE LLC,
all with the payee name of "Aldo Espinosa." The
owners of Northstar and SERE were then contacted, and they
also confirmed that the checks were fraudulent and had not
been authorized. Police also searched the cell phones of the
six individuals. That search yielded a photo of Cordero with
Gonzalez-Lopez and De La Paz Jr. taken August 4, 2016, at the
same hotel where the search warrants had been executed. All
of the evidence seized revealed a multi-state forged check
operation conducted by the six.
was charged with five counts of forgery and one count of
conspiracy to commit a felony (forgery)-all class
"D" felonies. As a part of a plea deal, the State
agreed to dismiss the five counts of forgery and the habitual
offender enhancement in return for Cordero's guilty plea
to the one count of conspiracy to commit forgery. At the plea
hearing the district court engaged Cordero in a comprehensive
colloquy. The relevant parts regarding the factual basis for
Cordero's guilty plea follow:
THE COURT: Well, what did you do?
CORDERO: I accompanied Lazaro and Alfredo to the bank, and I
helped them to ...