United States District Court, District of Columbia
C. Lamberth United States District Judge
the Court is defendant Charles E. Coughlin's Motion to
Vacate, Set Aside, or Correct Sentence Pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 [ECF Nos. 20$and 221], as well as his Motion to
Expand the Record Pursuant to Rule of the Federal Rules
Governing 28 U.S. § 2255 Proceedings. Defendant claims
that his counsel was ineffective. Upon consideration of
defendant's motion [204 and 221], the Government's
opposition , defendant's reply , the entire
record herein, and the applicable law, the defendant's
motion is DENIED.
Defendant's Victim Compensation Fund Claim
Charles Coughlin was working at the Pentagon on September 11,
2001. United States v. Coughlin, 821 F.Supp.2d 35,
38 (D.D.C. 2011). Defendant's desk was located
seventy-five feet from the site of impact of the hijacked
airplane that crashed into the building that day.
Id. In December 2003, Defendant submitted a claim to
the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund
("VCF"), which Congress created to compensate
individuals injured on September 11th. Id. He
claimed that the plane's impact caused the ceiling
overhead to cave in. Id. He also stated that he was
struck by flying debris, and hit his head while engaged in
the rescue effort. Id. In his submission to the VCF,
he stated that this sequence of events caused him severe and
permanent disabilities. Id. He argued that his
collection of disabilities prevented him from participating
in athletic activity, and the medical attention that they
required forced him to take time off from work. Id.
He also claimed that he was unable to complete routine
household chores and was forced to pay others to complete
them. Id. In his VCF claim, he included a collection
often checks that were used to compensate others for such
work. Id. The claim, however, only sought $180, 000
in compensation for his injuries and disabilities, and no
compensation for the replacement services that he procured
and other economic damages related to the injuries which he
initially denied defendant's claim due to its
untimeliness. Id. at 38-39. Defendant appealed that
determination on February 17, 2004, explaining his
untimeliness and seeking a waiver of ineligibility that was
available to rescue workers. Id. at 39. Defendant
submitted additional documentation to support his appeal on
February 20 and March 9, 2004, including medical records and
a physician's report. Id. The VCF reversed its
initial denial and notified the defendant that he was
eligible for a presumed award of $60, 000 for noneconomic
loss. Id. The VCF notified defendant that he could
either accept the presumed award or request an appeal
hearing. Id. On April 30, 2004, defendant's
attorney notified the VCF of his client's request for an
appeal hearing. Id.
the May 13, 2004 appeal hearing, defendant's attorney
told the hearing officer that he requested the appeal hearing
because the presumed award was "unfair and
inadequate" and "provided no compensation for
economic loss" to defendant. Id. (internal
quotations omitted). Defendant elaborated by stating that his
initial claim lacked a past, present, and future loss of
earnings component. Id. Defendant submitted ten
additional exhibits to support his appeal, nine of which
centered on his economic-loss claim. Id. These nine
exhibits included a letter detailing the time he had taken
off from work for doctor's appointments and physical
therapy; thirty two carbon copies of checks purportedly
reflecting payments to outsiders for household services that
he was no longer able to perform; and a six-part schedule
detailing his past and future economic claims. Id.
1, 2004, the VCF returned its final decision, awarding
defendant $331, 034: $ 151, 034 for economic damages, as well
as the $ 180, 000 that he sought for noneconomic damages for
his injury. Id.
October 31, 2008, a D.C. grand jury indicted defendant on
five counts of mail fraud (one for each letter he sent to the
VCF while pursuing his claim), one count of filing a false,
fictitious and fraudulent claim, and one count of theft of
government property. Id.
March 10, 2009, trial proceedings commenced against the
defendant with Judge Kennedy presiding. Id. During
the trial, the government contested defendant's
allegation that he was injured on September 11, 2001. ECF No.
241 at 5. In response, the defense presented the expert
testimony of Doctors Spiro Antoniades, Akhil Khanna, and
Thorn Mayer, all of whom testified that defendant sustained a
partial permanent disability during the attack on the
Pentagon. ECF No. 206 at 8-9; ECF No. 221 at 8. These experts
testified that defendant was being treated for a cervical
spine injury following September 11, 2001. ECF No. 206 at
8-9; ECF No. 221 at 19. Ultimately, the jury acquitted the
defendant of three counts of mail fraud (Counts Two, Three,
and Five), but failed to reach a verdict on the other two
mail fraud counts (Counts One and Four), the count of filing
a false, fictitious and fraudulent claim (Count Six), and the
count of theft of government property (Count Seven).
Coughlin, 821 F.Supp.2d at 39.
retrial commenced on June 8, 2009, despite defendant's
objection that retrying the hung counts was barred under the
Double Jeopardy Clause, in light of Yeager v. United
States. Coughlin, 821 F.Supp.2d at 40; 557 U.S. 110
(2009). Defendant sought an interlocutory appeal of the
Court's denial of his objection to the retrial.
Coughlin, 821 F.Supp.2d at 39-40. After the Court
denied his interlocutory appeal, defendant sought an
emergency stay from the D.C. Circuit, which was granted.
Id. at 40. Judge Kennedy ultimately declared a