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Petrucelli v. Department of Justice

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 26, 2015

JOHN A. PETRUCELLI, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

REGGIE B. WALTON, District Judge.

The plaintiff, a federal prisoner, brought this action under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), see 5 U.S.C. § 552 (2006), against the United States Department of Justice ("DOJ"), demanding the release of records maintained by the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), the Executive Office for United States Attorneys ("EOUSA"), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"). In an earlier opinion that granted in part and denied in part the most recent motion to dismiss or for summary judgment, the Court concluded that: (1) the BOP conducted reasonable searches for records responsive to the plaintiff's FOIA requests; (2) the BOP properly withheld information under FOIA Exemptions 6, 7(C) and 7(F); (3) the EOUSA and the FBI conducted reasonable searches for records responsive to the plaintiff's FOIA requests; (4) the EOUSA and the FBI properly withheld information under FOIA Exemptions 3, 5 and 7(C); and (5) that the relevant records were compiled for law enforcement purposes within the scope of FOIA Exemption 7. See Petrucelli v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, ___ F.Supp. 3d ___, ___, 2014 WL 2919285 (D.D.C. June 27, 2014). In those respects, the defendant's most recent prior motion was granted. Id. at *20. The motion was denied in part because the "EOUSA failed to justify its decisions to withhold information under FOIA Exemptions 7(D)... and 7(F), and because the FBI failed to adequately justify its decisions [to withhold information] under FOIA Exemptions 7(D)... and 7(E)...." Id. This matter is now before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Alter or Amend Judgment Pursuant to Rule 59(e), ECF No. 74, and the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, ECF Nos. 78, 80. For the reasons discussed below, the defendant's motion for summary judgment will again be granted in part and denied in part, and the plaintiff's motions will be denied.

I. BACKGROUND

A. The Plaintiff's Requests for EOUSA Records

1. Request No. 03-2265

The plaintiff sought information from the EOUSA, including files, police reports, and videotapes, "believed to be within the possession of the [United States Attorney's Office] for the... Southern District of New York" and "in relation to [his] criminal prosecution in the United States District Court in New York, New York in the criminal case titled and numbered under United States v. John Petrucelli, No. 02CR[]099." Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Defendant's Motion to Dismiss or, Alternatively, Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 23 ("Def.'s First Mem."), Declaration of David Luczynski ("First Luczynski Decl."), Exhibit ("Ex.") A (Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act Request dated July 1, 2003). The request was denied in full by the EOUSA based on FOIA Exemptions 3, 5, 7(C), 7(D), and 7(F). First Luczynski Decl. ¶ 6.

2. Request Number 04-2972

The plaintiff's second FOIA request to the EOUSA also sought information pertaining to the prosecution of his criminal case. See id., Ex. F (Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act Request dated June 18, 2004). Specifically, the plaintiff requested:

Books, Papers, Photographs, Recorded Tapes, Files, Reports, Records, Video Tapes, Police Reports, and Other Documentary Materials or Data, regardless of physical form or characteristic made or received by any officer or employee of your agency relating to, regarding, or naming me.

Id., Ex. F at 1. The plaintiff provided the title and number of his United States District Court for the Southern District of New York criminal case to the EOUSA, and agreed to pay any fees associated with the request. Id. EOUSA staff located records responsive to the request and released to the plaintiff forty pages of records in full and twelve pages in part, withheld two pages in full, and referred sixty-five pages of records to the FBI for its direct response to the plaintiff. Id. ¶ 10; see id., Ex. G (Letter to the plaintiff from Marie A. O'Rourke dated December 29, 2004) at 2.

B. The Plaintiff's Requests for FBI Records

1. FOIPA Request No. 1000298-000

On June 18, 2004, the plaintiff made a "request[] for all records about himself [] to the... FBI." Plaintiff's Memorandum in Opposition to Defendant's Renewed Motion to Dismiss and to Defendant[']s Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 64 at 5 (page numbers designed by the plaintiff). Responsive records, the plaintiff believed, would have been "located in Washington, DC, White Plains, New York, and Manhattan, New York agency offices, possibly in relation, but not limited to [his] criminal prosecution, Case #: 02CR00099-01 (TPG) United States v. John A. Petrucelli, prosecuted within the Southern [D]istrict of New York, which stemmed from State of New York v. Darin Mazzarella (Yonkers, NY)." Defendant's Reply in Further Support of its Renewed Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 67, Second Declaration of David M. Hardy ("Second Hardy Decl."), Ex. A (Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act Request dated June 18, 2004). The FBI denied the plaintiff's June 18, 2004 request in its entirety, Second Hardy Decl. ¶ 9, relying on FOIA Exemptions 7(A) and 7(C), id., Ex. D (Letter to the plaintiff from D.M. Hardy dated September 29, 2004).

2. FOIPA Request No. 1019355-000

The FBI reviewed the sixty-five pages of records referred by the EOUSA and determined that all of the records were exempt from disclosure under FOIA Exemptions 7(A), 7(C) and 7(D). Def.'s First Mem., Declaration of David M. Hardy ("First Hardy Decl.") ¶ 8; see id., Ex. B (Letter to the plaintiff from David M. Hardy, Chief, Records/Information Dissemination Section, Records Management Division, FBI). "Upon... the filing of the instant complaint, the FBI conducted another review of the referred records" and determined that FOIA Exemption 7(A) "no longer applied since the investigation was no longer pending." Second Hardy Decl. ¶ 14. However, because the FBI determined that "the information previously [protected under] FOIA Exemption []7(A) ...


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