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Tariq Belt v. U.S. Dept. of Justice

December 8, 2010

TARIQ BELT, PETITIONER
v.
U.S. DEPT. OF JUSTICE, ET AL., RESPONDENTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Muir

Complaint Filed 08/09/10

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Tariq Belt, ("Belt"), an inmate confined in the Allenwood Low Security Correctional Institution, White Deer, Pennsylvania, ("LSCI-Allenwood"), filed this pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Petitioner claims that his due process rights were violated during the course of a prison disciplinary hearing, where he was found guilty of the prohibited act of Accepting Money or Anything of Value from Another Inmate, or Any Other Person without Staff Authorization, a violation of Disciplinary Code Section 328. Specifically, he claims that the Discipline Hearing Officer ("DHO") disregarded proper procedures at his DHO hearing; the record relied on by the DHO was falsified; and that he is being retaliated against. (Doc. 1, petition). Thus, petitioner files the instant action in which he seeks to have the incident report expunged. Id. The petition is ripe for disposition and, for the reasons that follow, will be denied.

Background

On May 10, 2010, at approximately 3:00 p.m., Belt was issued Incident Report 2009341 charging him with Conduct Which Disrupts or Interferes with the Security or Orderly Running of a BOP Facility, and Giving or Receiving Money or Anything of Value from Another Inmate Without Staff Authorization, violations of code 399 and code 328. (Doc. 14, Ex. 1, Att. C, Incident Report). A copy of the incident report was delivered to Belt on May 10, 2010, at approximately 8:15 p.m. Id. The incident report, which was written by Special Investigative Technician J. Berkihise, reads as follows:

On April 28, 2010, it was discovered that inmate Tariq Belt, #40945-037, placed on his contact list; Joseph Bunker, 4115 Gray St., Detroit, MI 48205, and P.O. Box 380454, Clinton Township, MI, 48038, and joe.bunker@yahoo.com between the dates of March 18, 2010 and April 7, 2010, Joseph Bunker was identified as inmate Peter Joseph Messina, # 25451-039. After further review of financial and email data it was found that Messina sent inmate Belt $50 under the alias Joe Bunker. From March 20, 2010 to April 4, 2010, inmate Belt was in contact with Messina through the TRULINCS email system. It should be noted that from January 20, 2010 to April 1, 2010, Messina was assigned to the halfway house and under BOP supervision.

Id. On May 12, 2010, petitioner appeared before the Unit Discipline Committee ("UDC"). (Doc. 1, Ex. 1, Att. C, Committee Action). The UDC referred the charge to the Discipline Hearing Officer ("DHO"), with a recommendation that, if the DHO found Belt to be guilty, then sanctions including 13 days loss of good conduct time and 3 months loss of telephone privileges be imposed. During the UDC hearing, Belt was informed of his rights at the DHO hearing and provided him with a copy of the "Inmate Rights at Discipline Hearing" form. (Doc. 14, Ex. 1, Att. C, Inmate Rights at Discipline Hearing form). Belt refused to sign the form Id.

On May 12, 2009, Belt was provided with a "Notice of Discipline Hearing before the (DHO)" form. (Doc. 14, Ex. 1, Att. C, Notice of Discipline Hearing Before the DHO). Belt waived his rights to have a staff member represent him at the hearing and to have witnesses testify on his behalf. Id.

On May 20, 2010, Petitioner appeared for a hearing before DHO, Todd W. Cerney. (Doc. 14, Ex. 1, Att. C, DHO Report). During the May 20, 2010 DHO hearing, the DHO again read and reviewed the inmate's due process rights with Belt, and Belt indicated that he understood them. Id. The DHO confirmed that Belt received a copy of the incident report, that he did not want to call any witnesses, and that he did not want a staff representative. Id. During the hearing, petitioner stated "'[i]f that money was from March 30th, I

guess it was up for interpretation. I didn't know that anyone was in a half-way house.'"

The documentary evidence which the DHO considered in making his determination included: (1) April 29, and May 10, 2010 memoranda from reporting officer Jason M. Berkihise; (2) SENTRY Inmate History report for Messina # 25451-039, dated April 29, 2010; (3) photocopy of letter addressed to L.V. Leonnard, Arnold, MD 2102, dated April 19, 2010; (4) Trulincs Inmate Contact Report for BELT #40945-037; (5) Truview Inmate Center report for BELT #40945-037; and (6) Trulincs e-mails for BELT #40945-037 from 3/30/10 thru 3/31/10. Id.

The specific evidence taken from the relied upon documentary evidence was as follows:

During this discipline hearing regarding BELT, Tariq, Register No. 40945-037, for the charges of Conduct Which Disrupts or Interferes with the Security or Orderly Running of an Institution of the Bureau of Prisons and Giving Money or Anything of Value to, or Accepting Money or Anything of Value from; Another Inmate, or Any Other Person Without Staff Authorization, Codes 399 and 328, the following information was evidentiary and documented by the DHO in his findings.

BELT's involvement in the incident, as noted in Section 11 of Incident Report 2009341, as provided by J. Berkihise, Special Investigative Technician, was reviewed. Paraphrased, J. Berkihise, writes: On April 28, 2010, it was discovered that inmate Tariq BELT, #40945-037, placed on his contact list; Joseph Bunker, 4115 Gray St., Detroit, MI 48205, and P.O. Box 380454, Clinton Township, MI, 48038, and joe.bunker@yahoo.com between the dates of March 18, 2010 and April 7, 2010. Joseph Bunker was identified as inmate Peter Joseph Messina, # 25451-039. After further review of financial and email data it was found that Messina sent inmate Belt $50 under the alias Joe Bunker. From March 20, 2010 to April 4, 2010, inmate Belt was in ...


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