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Haas v. Commonwealth

United States District Court, Third Circuit

January 29, 2014

WILLIAM M. HAAS, Petitioner,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA and BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE, Respondents.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

CYNTHIA REED EDDY, Magistrate Judge.

On September 26, 2012, pro se Petitioner, William M. Haas, an inmate at FCI-Allenwood, filed a Petition for Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, challenging a detainer filed by the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.[1] Petitioner paid the filing fee on October 15, 2012. By Order of November 8, 2012, the court determined that both the Middle District of Pennsylvania and the Western District of Pennsylvania had concurrent jurisdiction over the petition and transferred the matter to this District as all of Petitioner's claims accrued in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

Respondents filed their Answer in which they argue that the Petition should be dismissed because (i) Petitioner has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies and/or (ii) the Petition does not allege a violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States. (ECF No. 14). Petitioner filed a Reply (ECF No. 15). The matter has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.[2]

Facts

Petitioner has a complicated criminal history, which includes convictions on both state and federal charges, as well as being recommitted to state custody as a technical parole violator ("TPV") and as a convicted parole violator ("CPV"). The relevant facts are as follows:

On May 14, 1993, Petitioner was sentenced to a total of 5 to 10 years incarceration in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania (Case Nos. CP-65-CR-2330-1992 (robbery) and CP-65-3147-1992 (criminal conspiracy)). Approximately eight (8) months later, on January 26, 1994, Petitioner was sentenced to a total of 5 to 10 years incarceration in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (Case Nos. CP-02-1747-1992 (robbery) and CP-02-CR-9263-1992 (robbery)).

On March 27, 2000, the Commonwealth Board of Probation and Parole ("the Board") released Petitioner on parole from the sentences imposed on May 14, 1993 and January 26, 1994. As of the date of his release on parole, Petitioner's controlling maximum sentence date was May 14, 2003.

On March 21, 2003, while on parole, Petitioner visited his parole officer for a routine urine test. The officer supervising the test caught Petitioner attempting to substitute a vial of urine for his own sample. Petitioner admitted he was using heroin and was placed under arrest for a technical violation of his parole. Several officers then proceeded to the parole office parking lot to search Petitioner's truck. In the truck sat Paul Daniel Meyers ("Meyers"), with a pistol next to him on the seat. In the back of the truck, in a tool box, the officers discovered a second pistol. Meyers told the officers that on March 19, 2003, he and Petitioner had robbed Frank and Shirley's Restaurant in Pittsburgh. According to Meyers, he was the getaway driver and Petitioner was the gunman. Meyers also said that during the robbery, Petitioner held the gun that was found in the toolbox.[3]

Based on this information, Petitioner was charged under Pennsylvania law with violating 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105, Former Convict Not to Own a Firearm. See CP-02-CR-7435-2003. Petitioner was returned to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") as a technical parole violator ("TPV"), and following a revocation hearing was required to serve the remaining time of his maximum sentence, which was until May 14, 2003. Upon completion of serving his maximum sentence, Petitioner was transferred to the Allegheny County Jail ("ACJ") to face the pending firearms charge.

On November 19, 2003, a federal Grand Jury sitting in the Western District of Pennsylvania returned a one-count Indictment, based on Petitioner's March 21, 2003 arrest, which charged Petitioner with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and 924(e). See Case No. 2: 03-cr-271 (hereinafter referred to as Haas I ). On this same date, Petitioner's state court charges were nolle prossed.

Jury trial commenced in Haas I on July 19, 2004. On July 21, 2004, the jury returned a guilty verdict. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for December 10, 2004.

In the interim, on November 8, 2004, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole issued a Notice of Board Decision, which stated that Petitioner was "RECOMMIT[ED] TO A STATE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION AS A CONVICTED PAROLE VIOLATOR TO SERVE 18 MONTHS BACKTIME, WHEN AVAILABLE... IF YOU WISH TO APPEAL THIS DECISION, YOU MUST FILE A REQUEST FOR ADMINISTRATIVE RELIEF WITH THE BOARD WITHIN THIRTY DAYS OF THIS ORDER...." (ECF No. 14-1, at 67). According to the Petition, Petitioner was then transferred from ACJ to SCI Houtzdale to serve his backtime imposed as a result of being found a convicted parole violator ("CPV").

On December 10, 2004, Petitioner was sentenced in Haas I, as follows:

Defendant is hereby committed to the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to be imprisoned for a term of 288 months to run concurrently with the sentence the Defendant is currently serving at Allegheny County ...

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