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United States of America v. Ralph J. Prepetit

October 7, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RALPH J. PREPETIT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ellen Segal Huvelle United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

On April 29, 2005, the Court revoked defendant Ralph J. Prepetit's supervised release in the above-captioned case and sentenced him to 24 months imprisonment. Seeking to vacate that judgment, he has filed the following motions: (1) a motion for relief from judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b); (2) a petition for a writ of audita querela pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1651; (3) a motion to reopen the supervised release violation hearing based on newly discovered evidence; and (4) a motion to vacate, set aside or modify his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons stated herein, all of defendant's motions are denied.

BACKGROUND

On September 22, 1994, defendant was convicted of two counts of bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344, one in the above-captioned case and one in Criminal No. 94-0267.*fn1 He was sentenced to concurrent terms of 37 months imprisonment to be followed by concurrent five-year terms of supervised release. After defendant was released from federal prison, he was transferred to State custody. He was released from State custody on May 17, 1999, and transferred to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE"). On December 24, 1999, he was released from ICE custody. According to the Probation Office, defendant's five-year term of supervision began that day, with a scheduled expiration date of December 23, 2004.

On February 16, 2004, the United States Probation Office charged defendant with violating the conditions of his supervised release and asked the Court to issue a warrant and hold a hearing on the alleged violations. The Court issued a warrant (the "First Warrant") and held an initial hearing on April 28, 2004. At that hearing, the Court revoked defendant's supervised release and set a sentencing date of May 19, 2004.*fn2 The sentencing date was continued several times, with the result that on December 16, 2004, a week before defendant's term of supervision was scheduled to expire, the Probation Office re-alleged the violations set forth in its February 26, 2004 memorandum and requested another warrant (the "Second Warrant"). (Probation Request for Course of Action at 2, Dec. 16, 2004.) Under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(i), the court's power . . to revoke a term of supervised release for violation of a condition of supervised release, and to order the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment . . . extends beyond the expiration of the term of supervised release for any period reasonably necessary for the adjudication of matters arising before its expiration if, before its expiration, a warrant or summons has been issued on the basis of an allegation of such a violation.

18 U.S.C. § 3583(i) (emphasis added). Although the First Warrant had been issued in February 2004, it was not supported by oath or affirmation, which a recent decision from the Ninth Circuit, United States v. Vargas-Amaya, 389 F.3d 901, 904 (9th Cir. 2004), had held was required in order to give the court jurisdiction to consider alleged violations of supervised release after the term of supervision expired. Thus, in order "to ensure that the Court ha[d] jurisdiction to consider the alleged violations and to conduct a violation hearing beyond the December 23, 2004, expiration date" (12/16/04 Probation Mem. at 2), the Second Warrant request was supported by oath or affirmation.

On January 19, 2005, the above-captioned case and Criminal No. 94-0267 were reassigned to the undersigned in order to consolidate them with a new criminal case against defendant, Criminal No. 04-353, in which defendant had entered a plea of guilty on August 6, 2004. On April 29, 2005, this Court sentenced defendant in all three cases. In Criminal No. 04-0353, defendant was convicted of one count of "access device fraud" in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1029(a)(2) and sentenced 120 months imprisonment to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. In the above-captioned case, Criminal No. 94-0021, defendant's supervised release was revoked and he was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment, to run consecutively to his sentence in Criminal No. 04-0353. And in Criminal No. 94-0267, defendant's supervised release was revoked and he was sentenced to 24 months imprisonment, to run consecutively to both his sentence in Criminal No. 04-0353 and his sentence in Criminal No. 94-0021.

On August 18, 2011, defendant filed a motion for relief from the judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b), along with a petition for a writ of audita querela. On September 1, 2011, he filed a motion to reopen his revocation proceeding based on newly discovered evidence or to vacate or set aside the revocation judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

ANALYSIS

Underlying each of defendant's motions is the same substantive argument: that the Court should vacate the judgment of revocation because the Court did not have jurisdiction to revoke his supervised release. Defendant's argument rests on a recent decision by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that held that a prisoner transferred to ICE custody has been "released from imprisonment" under 18 U.S.C. § 3624(e) and, therefore, his term of supervised release begins that same day.*fn3 United States v. Garcia-Rodriguez, 640 F.3d 129, 132 (5th Cir. 2011) ("We therefore hold that administrative detention by ICE does not qualify as imprisonment and that, for purposes of § 3624(e), [a prisoner] [i]s 'released from imprisonment' the moment he [i]s transferred from BOP custody to ICE custody to await deportation."). If this Court were to adopt the holding of Garcia-Rodriguez, defendant's term of supervised release commenced in May 1999 and expired in May 2004. As the Second Warrant was issued in December 2004, it would not have extended the Court's power to act after the expiration of supervision. See 18 U.S.C. § 3583(i) (power to revoke after supervision expires requires that "before its expiration, a warrant or summons has been issued on the basis of an allegation of such a violation"). As for the First Warrant, defendant argues, citing Vargas, that it could not have extended the court's power under § 3583(i) because it was not supported by oath or affirmation. Accordingly, defendant argues that the Court lacked jurisdiction to revoke his supervised release.

I. DEFENDANT'S EXCLUSIVE REMEDY IS A § 2255 MOTION

Despite defendant's citation to different legal theories, as a federal prisoner claiming the "right to be released upon the ground . . . that the court was without jurisdiction to impose such sentence," 28 U.S.C. § 2255(a),*fn4 his "exclusive remedy," is a motion pursuant to § 2255. See Fouche v. Mukasey, 296 Fed. Appx. 74 (D.C. Cir. 2008) (defendant's "complaint constituted a collateral attack on his conviction and sentence, which must be pursued by motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the sentencing court; or, if the § 2255 remedy is inadequate or ineffective, by a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in the judicial district where appellant's custodian is located"); Mathison v. United States, 648 F. Supp. 2d 106, 111 (D.D.C. 2009). Thus, defendant's motion to reopen based on newly discovered evidence, his motion for relief pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b),*fn5 and his petition for a writ of audita querela*fn6 must be denied.

II. DEFENDANT'S § 2255 MOTION IS BARRED BY THE APPLICABLE LIMITATIONS PERIOD

A motion brought under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is subject to a "1-year period of limitation" ...


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