United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
STEVEN L. RAY, Petitioner
WARDEN SCOTT FINLEY, Respondent
RICHARD CAPUTO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Steven L. Ray, a federal inmate, is incarcerated at the
prison camp on the campus of the Schuylkill Federal
Correctional Institution in Minersville, Pennsylvania.
Proceeding pro se, Mr. Ray has filed a petition for
a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 in
which he seeks to challenge the validity of his sentence due
to an “improperly calculated plea agreement”.
(ECF No. 1.) This matter is currently before the Court for
initial screening as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2243.
Pursuant to Rule 4 of the Rules Governing Section 2254 Cases,
applicable to § 2241 through Rule 1(b), this Court must
screen the Petition and determine whether it “plainly
appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the
petitioner is not entitled to relief.”
reasons set forth below, the Court will summarily dismiss Mr.
Ray's Petition based on his presently pending motion to
vacate filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 in the United
States District Court for the Western District of New
2015, pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States,
Mr. Ray plead guilty in the United States District Court for
the Western District of New York to one count of mail fraud,
18 U.S.C. § 1341, and one count of forgery of treasury
checks, 18 U.S.C. § 510(a)(2). United States v.
Ray, 713 Fed.Appx. 20, 21 (2d Cir. 2017). Prior to
sentencing, Mr. Ray proffered a character reference letter
“ostensibly written by J.L., a ‘paraplegic young
man' for whom Ray had previously given care.”
(Id.) The Government learned the letter was a
forgery. (Id.) Undeterred Mr. Ray then
“threatened and intimidated” J.L. to write a new
character letter on his behalf. (Id.) These actions
led to a second indictment and plea agreement with Mr. Ray
pleading guilty to one count of obstruction of an official
proceeding. (Id.) Although the applicable guideline
range was 57 to 71 months, the sentencing court went above
the Guidelines and sentenced Mr. Ray to 84 months'
imprisonment on all counts. (Id.)
appeal Mr. Ray challenged various aspects of his sentence.
First, he challenged “the two-level vulnerable-victim
enhancement to the obstruction charge” concerning his
“bullying” behavior toward J.L. (Id.)
Next, he claimed the sentencing court “failed to apply
an acceptance of responsibility reduction”.
(Id.at 22.) Third, Petitioner challenged “the
substantive reasonableness of his sentence” as it was
above the Guidelines. (Id.) Finally, Mr. Ray argued
the district court failed to address the mischaracterization
of the Government's sentencing materials prior to
sentencing. (Id. at 23.) On October 31, 2017, the
United States Court of Appeals of the Second Circuit affirmed
the judgement of the district court. (Id.)
February 7, 2018, Mr. Ray filed a motion to vacate his
sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See USA v.
Ray, 6:15-cr-06004 (W.D. NY). On September 3, 2019,
following the filing of multiple “supplements” to
his original motion, the Government filed a response to Mr.
Ray's motion to vacate. (Id.) Mr. Ray filed a
Traverse on September 9, 2019. (Id.) His motion to
vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is currently pending
before the sentencing court. (Id.)
§ 2241 Petition filed with this Court, Mr. Ray
challenges the validity of his sentence based on an
“improperly calculated plea agreement.” (ECF No.
1 at 2.) He claims the sentencing court erroneously inflated
his sentence by six points. First, he claims the sentencing
court improperly gave him a 14-point enhancement based on the
loss of money involved, over $400, 000, even though the
guidelines changed prior to his sentencing and called for
only a 12-point enhancement. (Id. at 6.) Second, he
claims he was “charged 4 points” due to the
sentencing court's miscalculation of victims. He claims
there was only one victim, not fifty. (Id.) Mr. Ray's
third ground for relief is also based on the alleged
“improper calculation of sentence plea.”
(Id. at 7.) Mr. Ray alleges “all facts show
that Mr. Ray's plea which was the starting point of his
sentence was improperly inflated by 6 points per the sentence
transcript facts and communication”. (Id.)
did not sign his Petition or suggest why he did not, or could
not, pursue these claims in a properly filed Section 2255
motion. (Id.) Mr. Ray does not specify what form of
relief he seeks from the Court. (Id.)
Court will summarily dismiss Mr. Ray's § 2241
Petition because his motion for relief pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 remains pending.
federal prisoner's first (and most often only) route for
collateral review of his conviction or sentence is under [28
U.S.C.] § 2255.” Bruce v. Warden Lewisburg
USP, 868 F.3d 170, 178 (3d Cir. 2017). Yet, “to
this limitation, Congress also provided a saving clause: a
federal prisoner may resort to § 2241 only if he can
establish that ‘the remedy by motion [under §
2255] is inadequate or ineffective to test the legality of
his detention.'” Id. (citations omitted);
see also§ 2255(e).
claimed inadequacy or ineffectiveness must be “a
limitation of scope or procedure ... prevent[ing] a §
2255 proceeding from affording ... a full hearing and
adjudication of [a] wrongful detention claim.”
Okereke v. United States, 307 F.3d 117, 120 (3d Cir.
2002) (citing Cradle v. United States, 290 F.3d 536,
538 (3d Cir. 2002)). “Section 2255 is not inadequate or
ineffective merely because the sentencing court does not
grant relief, the one-year statute of limitations has
expired, or the petitioner is unable to meet the stringent
gatekeeping requirements of the amended § 2255.”
Cradle, 290 F.3d at 539. Rather, only when a federal
prisoner is “in the unusual situation where an
intervening change in statutory interpretation runs the risk
that an individual was convicted of conduct that is not a
crime, and that ...