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Sheehan v. Howard

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 24, 2019



          Christopher C. Conner, Chief Judge United States District Court

         Before the court is a petition for a writ of habeas corpus (Doc. 1) pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 filed by petitioner Daniel Patrick Sheehan (“Sheehan”), a Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) inmate currently incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution at Allenwood Medium (“FCI-Allenwood Medium”), White Deer, Pennsylvania. For the reasons set forth below, the court will dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.

         I. Background

         Sheehan’s criminal matter proceeded in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York as follows:

By indictment filed on March 20, 2013, the defendant was charged in Count One with a “Hobbs Act Extortion” in that he allegedly “demanded money from the Home Depot Store in Huntington Station, New York via threatening letters and telephone calls to the store’s manager” in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951, and, under Count Two, with the “Use of a Destructive Device to Commit [the] Extortion” charged in Count One in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(B)(ii).
The case was tried before a jury over several days beginning on June 11, 2013. During defendant’s opening statement, he acknowledged his guilt as to Count One consistent with what he told members of law enforcement upon his arrest. But he denied the allegations in Count Two upon the ground that the “pipe bomb” he secreted in the store was not functional and thus the device was not a “destructive device” as defined by statute. The jury returned a verdict of guilty as to both counts. By Memorandum & Order, dated July 11, 2014, the Court denied defendant’s motions pursuant to Rules 29 and 33 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, rejecting the contentions that he was entitled to acquittal or a new trial on the grounds that the “pipe bomb” was not a destructive device, he was denied a fair trial, and the jury charge was flawed. Sheehan was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 30 years on Count Two (the mandatory minimum) and a consecutive term of imprisonment of one month on Count One.
On appeal, Sheehan continued to challenge his conviction under Count Two maintaining that the “pipe bomb” was not a “destructive device”, that the prosecutor’s summation deprived him of a fair trial, and that the jury instructions were erroneous. On September 23, 2016, the Second Circuit rejected defendant’s arguments and affirmed his conviction.
In his [28 U.S.C. § 2255] petition, defendant asserts that his conviction on Count Two should be vacated as trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in that (1) he failed to view discovery with defendant; (2) his loyalty was with the prosecution; (3) he “barred [defendant] from discussing Media lies while on the stand to the point [defendant] did not take the stand at all;” (4) he conceded defendant’s guilt as to the extortion count when Sheehan “only attempted extortion;” (5) he failed to follow-up when defendant’s PSR was not done for six months; (6) he moved defendant to a prison called GEO to make it easier on the U.S. Marshals; and (7) he failed to make any pretrial motions or conduct any investigation. (DE 75 at 2-14.) As to “appellate” counsel, he claims that the counsel who represented him at sentencing and was supposed to represent him on appeal (1) failed to argue that defendant was entitled to a 3 point reduction for his crime being attempted extortion and not extortion; (2) would not email defendant and blocked his phone calls, and (3) farmed him out to co-counsel without consulting him. Further, that co-counsel never met him or discussed the appeals strategy, waived oral argument, and referred to him as delusional on appeal. (Id. at 15-19.) Lastly, defendant argues that the Supreme Court ruling in Johnson v. United States, __U.S.__, 135 S.Ct. 2551, 192 L.Ed.2d 569 (2015) “eliminates attempted extortion as a violent crime worthy of supporting a 924c as a predicate offense.” (Id. at 19-21.)

Sheehan v. United States, No. 16-CV-6385, 2018 WL 1796548, at *1 (E.D.N.Y. April 16, 2018) (footnote omitted). On April 16, 2018, in denying the § 2255 motion, the district court rejected each ineffective assistance of counsel claim. Id. The district court also held in abeyance the Johnson issue pending appointment of counsel and further briefing. Id. at *8-9. Sheehan subsequently withdrew the Johnson claim. See United States v. Sheehan, No. 13-CR-186, at (Doc. 108) (E.D.N.Y.).

         Sheehan filed the instant petition (Doc. 1) seeking relief based on the following: (1) he is factually innocent of the predicate offense of extortion because he never received any property; (2) the jury instructions were improper and his counsel was ineffective in failing to object to them; (3) the trial judge improperly rejected his Fourth Amendment claim; (4) the trial judge failed to issue a certificate of appealability regarding the denial of his § 2255 motion; (5) the trial judge improperly gave the prosecution extensions of time; and, (6) his lawyers controlled the content in his Rule 29 and 33 motions. (Doc. 1, at 6-8, 10-14). Sheehan claims that the remedy under § 2255 is inadequate or ineffective because the denial of his § 2255 motion was “cursory, evasive and bias[ed]”, the district court relied on 2017 case law when ruling on the Fourth Amendment claim, and the district court denied him a certificate of appealability. (Id. at 5). He urges the court to overturn his conviction and immediately release him from custody. (Id. at 8).

         II. Discussion

         Federal prisoners seeking post-conviction relief from their judgment of conviction or the sentence imposed are generally required to bring their collateral challenges pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See 28 U.S.C. § 2255(e). Section 2255(e) provides that:

An application for a writ of habeas corpus [pursuant to § 2241] in behalf of a prisoner who is authorized to apply for relief by motion pursuant to this [§ 2255], shall not be entertained if it appears that the applicant has failed to apply for relief, by motion, to the court which sentenced him, or that such court has denied him relief, unless it also appears that ...

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