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Moreta v. Marionna

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 7, 2017

PEDRITO MORETA, Petitioner,
v.
CHARLES MARIONNA, Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM

          Hon. John E. Jones III Judge.

         Presently before the court is a petition for writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, filed by Petitioner Pedrito Moreta (“Moreta”), a federal inmate housed at the United States Penitentiary at Canaan (“USP-Canaan”), Waymart, Pennsylvania. He alleges that his due process rights were violated in the context of a disciplinary proceeding. The petition is ripe for disposition and, for the reasons that follow, will be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) disciplinary process is fully outlined in Code of Federal Regulations, Title 28, Sections 541 through 541.8 (2011). These regulations dictate the manner in which disciplinary action may be taken should a prisoner violate, or attempt to violate, institutional rules. The first step requires filing an incident report and conducting an investigation pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 541.5. Staff is required to conduct the investigation promptly absent intervening circumstances beyond the control of the investigator. 28 C.F.R. § 541.5(b).

         Following the investigation, the matter is then referred to the Unit Disciplinary Committee (“UDC”) for a hearing pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 541.7. If the UDC finds that a prisoner has committed a prohibited act, it may impose minor sanctions. Id. If the alleged violation is serious and warrants consideration for more than minor sanctions, or involves a prohibited act listed in the greatest or high category offenses, the UDC refers the matter to a Disciplinary Hearing Officer (“DHO”) for a hearing. Id. Greatest Severity category offenses carry a possible sanction of, inter alia, loss of good conduct time credits. 28 C.F.R. § 541.3.

         On May 21, 2014, Moreta received Incident Report 2585429, charging him with “Use of the telephone for abuses other than criminal activity” in violation of Prohibited Act Code 297 and “Disruptive Conduct, most like Code 297 - use of email for abuses other than criminal activity” in violation of Prohibited Act Code 299. (Doc. 8-1, p. 67). The incident is described as follows: “On May 21, 2014, at 4:00 p.m., a review of inmate telephone and e-mail accounts was conducted. This review showed that inmate Moreta, Pedrito, #60511-066 allowed inmate Edwards, Tony, #51390-054 to use his telephone and e-mail accounts on multiple occasions from October of 2013 to April of 2014.” (Id.) The report contained detailed support for the charges including telephone records demonstrating that Edwards placed 157 telephone calls using Moreta's telephone account and sent 2, 951messages to Shavon Thomas using Moreta's e-mail account. (Id. at 67-68).

         Notice in advance of the DHO hearing was provided to Moreta on May 21, 2014. (Id. at 22). On May 22, 2014, the UDC referred the matter to the DHO due to the seriousness of the alleged act and the attendant sanctions. (Id. at 18). Moreta was advised of his rights on that same day. (Id. at 20-21). He requested L. Brandenburg, Counselor, as his staff representative and sought to call Inmates Edwards and Carr as witnesses at the DHO hearing. (Id.)

         During the June 5, 2014, disciplinary hearing, the DHO noted that staff provided Moreta with written notice of the charges against him and advised him of his rights in advance of the hearing. (Id. at 22). His staff representative, L. Brandenburg, “noted no discrepancies in the discipline process and was disclosed all documentation in reference to this case. Further she met with Moreta in advance of the hearing to discuss the case. She had no comment for the record.” (Id.) The DHO documented the following inmate statement: “I request the date Edwards was issued the incident report. The staff member has twenty-four hours to issue the incident report. It was well after the time frames. I feel my rights were violated.” (Id.at 23). He made no statement specific to the charge. (Id.)

         With regard to Moreta's requested inmate witnesses, the DHO stated as follows:

The following persons requested were not called for the reason(s) given: Moreta requested witness testimony of Edwards, Tony (51390-054) and Carr, Sean (50514-054) to testify to when they received their incident reports and when it was dealt with.
For the reasons exhaustively explicated in section III, B, when other inmate(s) allegedly received their incident report and were “dealt with”, would not alone exculpate Moreta. It is not germane to the issue at hand before the hearing officer, and is completely outside the issues presented in the charge. The hearing officer is not oblivious to the constitutional protections with that of due process. However, as any testimony presented by Carr and Edwards would be non-exculpatory, their testimony was excluded.

(Id.)

         In finding that the act was committed as charged, the DHO relied on significant documentary evidence including, inter alia, Truview call reports, email lists, money receipts, Trufone monitored call reports, Trulincs message body reports and locked messages, and the Inmate Investigative report. (Id. at 24). The DHO specifically relied on the eyewitness account of the reporting officer detailed in the incident report. (Id. at 25). He also relied on the following investigative findings:

[B]eginning on/or about October 16, 2013, Moreta's ITS and TRULINCS account was utilized by Edwards to orchestrated [sic] an illicit narcotics introduction scheme; TRUVIEW Call Detail Report for Moreta, Pedrito 60511-066, confirming a telephone call was placed on his ITS account on October 16, 2013 at 7:23 AM to telephone number 770-286-0450; TRULINCS Message Body Report from THACARAMELQUEEN@YAHOO.COM dated for October 16, 2013 to Moreta, Pedrito Santiago 60511-066 which comports with the facts as presented in the incident report; TRUVIEW Email List Detail Report for Edwards, Tony 51390-054, which confirms email address THACARAMELQUEEN@YAHOO.COM is an email address on his account; TRUVIEW Email List Detail Report for Strong, Tito 26829-050, which confirms the email address THACARAMELQUEEN@YAHOO.COM belongs to Shavon Thomas; TRUIVEW [sic] Email List for Moreta, Pedrito 60511-066, which confirms email address THACARAMELQUEEN@YAHOO.COM is an email address on his account created on September 14, 2013; TRUVIEW Visitor List Detail Report for Edwards, Tony 51390-054, which confirms Shavon Thomas, telephone number 770-26-0450, is an approved visitor; TRUVIEW Money Received Report for Edwards, Tony 51390-054, confirming Shavon Thomas' telephone ...

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