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Ryan v. United States

August 4, 2010

MICHAEL G. RYAN, PETITIONER
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Blewitt

Judge Jones

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

I. Background

Petitioner Michael G. Ryan is an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood ("FCI-Allenwood"), in White Deer, Pennsylvania. On July 9, 2010, he filed an action styled as "Complaint for Declaratory Relief" against the United States*fn1 alleging breach of his plea agreement. (Doc. 1). Petitioner Ryan seeks declaratory and injunctive relief. He attached exhibits to his "Complaint." (Doc. 1, "Exhibits A-G"). Petitioner also filed an in forma pauperis Motion. (Doc. 2).

Petitioner's action has not yet been served on Respondent. We now give preliminary consideration to Petitioner's action pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases in the U.S. District Courts, 28 U.S.C. foll. § 2254 (1977) (applicable to § 2241 petitions under Rule 1 (b)). See Patton v. Fenton, 491 F. Supp. 156, 158-59 (M.D. Pa. 1979); Romero v. Holt, 2006 WL 3437360 (M.D. Pa.); Winfield v. Martinez, 2008 WL 4541945 (M.D. Pa.).*fn2

II. Petitioner's Claims

Petitioner alleges that on March 20, 1995, he entered into a plea agreement with the United States in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Criminal No. 94-0127. (Doc. 1, p. 2). Petitioner agreed to plead guilty to 3 counts of related drug charges. (Doc. 1, Ex. B). The pertinent part of Petitioner's plea agreement read:

I further understand that, if the judge accepts my plea of guilty and the plea agreement entered into between myself and the government, I will be sentenced as follows: count 1, 20 years imprisonment to run concurrent with all other terms of imprisonment, up to a $4,000,000.00 fine, 5 years supervised release, $50.00 special assessment, as well as the costs of prosecution, imprisonment, probation, or supervised release order and denial of certain federal benefits. (Doc. 1, Ex. B) (emphasis added).

The italicized wording in the above quote was redacted and excluded from count 1 in Petitioner's final plea agreement. (Doc. 1, Ex. B). The same wording was redacted and excluded from Petitioner's plea of guilty to counts 2 and 3 as well. (Doc. 1, Ex. B). As such, the stated wordingwas redacted and excluded from Petitioner's entire final plea agreement. (Doc. 1, Ex. B).*fn3 On April 4, 1995, Petitioner alleges that he pled guilty to the 3 counts of drug related charges pursuant to the plea agreement he had with the United States. (Doc. 1, p. 2). Petitioner alleges that on that same day both parties initialed the redacted and excluded lines referenced above, the District Court acknowledged the plea agreement's alteration and accepted Petitioner's guilty plea. (Doc. 1, Ex. C). Petitioner was taken into custody by the Bureau of Prison's ("BOP") on July 6, 1995, to begin serving his prison sentence. (Doc. 1, p. 3).

On March 18, 2010, Petitioner was summoned to appear before an evaluation team at FCIAllenwood assembled to inform Petitioner that he had been recommended for Residential Re-entry Center ("RRC") placement. Petitioner alleges that at the meeting he was presented with a document requiring his signature for placement in the RRC. (Doc. 1, p. 3). He explains that at the meeting he asked for and received a copy of the Community Based Program ("CBP") Agreement, the Agreement pertaining to his placement in the RRC. (Doc. 1, p. 3). He requested and was granted some time to review the CBP Agreement before signing it. (Doc. 1, p. 3). The CBP Agreement requires that inmates "contribute to the cost [] of residenc[y]" placement in the RRC. (Doc. 1, Ex. D).

Petitioner alleges that on March 31, 2010, he informed Mr. Beaver, his (Petitioner's) case manager, and Mr. Netzband, his (Petitioner's) unit manager, that he was "unable to enter into the CBP agreement because of its requirement that, '[he] would be expected to contribute to the cost of [his] residence through payments to the contractor.'" (Doc. 1, Ex. D). Petitioner states that he told Mr. Netzband that he would not sign the CBP Agreement because it conflicted with the terms of his 1995 plea agreement which redacted and excluded provisions requiring Petitioner to pay for the costs of his imprisonment. Petitioner alleges that Mr. Netzband subsequently threatened to sanction him if he did not sign the CBP Agreement.

Petitioner alleges that on May 7, 2010, Lieutenant Rohrer served him with an Incident Report charging him with refusal to sign the CBP Agreement required to accept his program assignment, BOP Code 306. (Doc. 1, Ex. E). He further alleges that on May 11, 2010, he was summoned for a disciplinary hearing before the Unit Disciplinary Committee ("UDC") which consisted of Unit Manager Netzband and Unit Counselor Thompson. Petitioner claims that prior to the hearing's commencement, Mr. Netzband warned Petitioner that his (Petitioner's) failure to sign the CBP Agreement would result in sanctions against Petitioner. Petitioner was advised that sanctions would include confinement in segregated housing and loss of earned good-time-credit. (Doc. 1, p. 4) At the hearing's conclusion, the UDC found that Petitioner committed the charged offense (Code 306), and sanctioned Petitioner to the loss of his prison job for one year due to his failure to sign the CBP Agreement. (Doc. 1, Ex. F).*fn4

On May 13, 2010, Petitioner submitted an Inmate Request to Staff Form regarding his job change due to the sanction imposed by the UDC. (Doc. 1, Ex. G). The prison staff responded to Petitioner's Request as follows:

You we removed from Unicor do to being found guilty of code 306 REFUSING WORK/PGM ASSIGNMENT and sanctioned to LOSE FOB 1 YEAR on 05-11-2010 by the UDC. You were ...


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