United States District Court, District of Columbia
E. Boasberg, United States District Judge.
case is the latest chapter in the ongoing saga between
pro se Plaintiff Gregory Bartko and various agencies
of the federal government. Bartko seeks the disclosure of
records under the Freedom of Information Act to illuminate
alleged prosecutorial misconduct connected to his conviction
for fraud in the Eastern District of North Carolina. This
particular suit concerns FOIA requests that he submitted to
Defendants Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and U.S.
Bureau of Prisons. Defendants now move for summary judgement
as to the adequacy of their searches and the withholding of
responsive documents pursuant to several FOIA exemptions.
Finding discrepancies in EOUSA's search - Bartko now
concedes the adequacy of BOP's search - but sufficient
justification for the withholdings, the Court will grant in
part and deny in part the Motion.
Court is no stranger to Bartko and his FOIA pursuits.
See, e.g., Bartko v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 62 F.Supp.3d 134 (D.D.C. 2014). It will focus
here on those events pertaining to this Motion for Summary
submitted two FOIA requests that are at issue, one to EOUSA
and one to BOP. In the former, dated November 28, 2016,
Bartko sought the following:
Records of correspondence (including email or other forms of
electronic messaging) to or from any personnel in the United
States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of
North Carolina . . . created between January 1, 2004 and the
present date and which was sent or transmitted to any of the
following persons. EXCLUDED from this FOIA request are any
and all records previously released in connection with
Bartko's previously submitted FOIA requests.
ECF No. 1 (Compl.), Exh. 1 (FOIA Request Letter No.
2017-3456) at 1 (emphasis omitted). The letter then listed 17
specific names, along with “[a]ny personnel in the
Department of Justice's Office of Professional
Responsibility . . . [and] Professional Responsibility
Advisory Office” and “[a]ny personnel with
Corporate Office Centers in its capacity as the manager of
Bartko's executive office suite located in Atlanta,
GA.” Id. at 1-2. Bartko's letter explained
that he sought the records in connection with one or more of
three criminal cases prosecuted in the United States District
Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
Id. at 1. Those cases specifically were:
1. United States v. Gregory Bartko, EDNC No. 5:09-cr-0321 (D)
and on appeal to the Fourth Circuit, No. 12-4298;
2. United States v. John K. Colvin, EDNC No. 05:09-cr-0072
(D) and on appeal to the Fourth Circuit, No. 10-5337; and
3. United States v. Scott B. Hollenbeck, EDNC No.
then assigned Bartko's FOIA request the number 2017-3456
and sent it on to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the
Eastern District of North Carolina. See ECF No. 55
(Def. MSJ & Statement of Undisputed Facts), ¶ 3.
That office conducted a search that will be discussed in more
detail later. On November 1, 2018, following the search,
EOUSA released 90 pages of records to Bartko in full and 20
pages that were partially redacted. See ECF No. 55
(Declaration of Tricia Francis), ¶ 3; ECF No. 57-1 (Pl.
Resp. to Def. Statement of Facts), ¶ 7. The agency also
withheld 43 pages in full, citing FOIA Exemptions 3, 5, 6,
7(C), and 7(D). Id., ¶¶ 4-18.
submitted a second, related FOIA request to BOP on or about
November 29, 2017. See ECF No. 29 (Supplemental
Complaint Against BOP), ¶ 3. In this request, Bartko
sought mail communications sent to or from inmate Scott
Hollenbeck relating to Hollenbeck's sentence reduction or
his cooperation as a government witness; mail communications
to or from Hollenbeck or his wife relating to the written
cooperation agreement among Hollenbeck, his wife, and any
personnel within USAO-EDNC; all visitation records associated
with Hollenbeck and four specific individuals - Clay C.
Wheeler and David Bragdon from USAO-EDNC, U.S. Postal
Inspector Michael Carroll, and FBI Special Agent Joan
Fleming; and finally, any evidence relating to disciplinary
action taken against inmate Hollenbeck by BOP. See
ECF No. 29-1 (BOP FOIA Request) at 1. In response, BOP
searched its files and systems, including its inmate-email
system, prisoner-visitation logs, and Hollenbeck's
disciplinary record. See ECF No. 55-4 (Declaration
of Kenneth Richardson), ¶¶ 7-10. It found no
records responsive to this request. Id.,
have now brought a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
relating only to those requests. Plaintiff, in his Response
to the Motion, accepts the adequacy of BOP's search.
See ECF No. 57 (Pl. Resp. to Def. MSJ) at 1. The
only issue that remains for the Court's ...