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United States v. Stubler

October 24, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RICHARD J. STUBLER, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James F. McClure, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

(Judge McClure)

BACKGROUND

On June 22, 2006, a Grand Jury sitting in the Middle District of Pennsylvania charged defendant Richard J. Stubler with violating 18 U.S.C. § 115(a)(2). Stubler had allegedly sunk a knife into the siding of a house owned by a retired United States Probation Officer in September 2005. On June 23, 2006, Stubler entered a plea of not guilty to the indictment.

On July 28, 2006, the government filed an information containing four additional counts. The information contained one count of attempted damage to government property in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1361 and three counts of disorderly conduct in violation of 41 C.F.R. § 102-74.390. In the information, the government alleged that Stubler had posted several disruptive signs on the front window of the federal building in Williamsport, PA and had also attempted to smash the same window with a sledgehammer. On August 7, 2006, Stubler entered a plea of not guilty to the four counts of the information.

Stubler waived his right to a jury trial and a non-jury trial was held on September 1, 2006. The trial was based upon a stipulated set of facts, testimony from two government witnesses, and a number of exhibits. On September 13, 2006, the court rendered its verdict, finding Stubler guilty on count one of the indictment and acquitting him on all four counts of the information.

On September 19, 2006, Stubler filed a "Motion for Judgment of Acquittal on Count One of the Indictment." Opposing and reply briefs have been filed. Now, for the following reasons, the court will deny Stubler's motion.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

On January 25, 1994, Stubler entered a plea of guilty to the charge of destroying government property, and was sentenced to four months of imprisonment and three years of supervised release. Mel Hoover is the probation officer who supervised Stubler during his period of supervised release. Although the supervised release term ended in April, 1997, Stubler still occasionally visited Mr. Hoover at the Federal Building in Williamsport, PA to discuss various topics. Stubler suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and Hoover allowed these visits because he had knowledge of Stubler's unstable mental condition.

Sometime in March of 2002, Stubler believes that he saw an apparition of Osama Bin Laden and this indicated to Stubler that Bin Laden was now dead. Certain that this was valuable information to the United States Government, Stubler told Hoover about the incident, assuming it would be forwarded to the FBI. Stubler believes that in June of 2005, in response to the Bin Laden apparition, the FBI instituted surveillance of Stubler that included placing a camera inside Stubler's television. This perceived invasion of his privacy caused Stubler much anger and displeasure.

On September 19, 2005, Stubler traveled to Hoover's residence with a knife. He walked up to the door with the knife and knocked. When no one responded, Stubler sunk the knife into the house and then left. The knife was discovered soon after by a member of Hoover's family. Following this incident, Hoover and his family feared for their security. Yet, it was not until much later that Hoover became suspected of the knife incident.

On June 14, 2006, Stubler contacted the FBI and had a taped telephone conversation with an FBI agent. During this conversation, he expressed his displeasure with the surveillance he believed was occurring. He also discussed the reason he believed the surveillance had begun. He stated that he knew that Bin Laden was dead and that he had so informed Hoover. Furthermore, he believed that Hoover relayed this information to the FBI, and that this is what led to the surveillance. He also stated that "the government was on me, I was feeling pressure, I was angry at Mel [Hoover], I figured Mel was the government." The same day, Hoover received a letter from Stubler in which he expressed his displeasure with the FBI. This letter specifically stated that "you started all this."

On June 15, 2006, Stubler visited the FBI in person. During this meeting, Stubler's notebook revealed information that connected him to the knife incident at Hoover's residence. ...


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