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Lewis v. Bureau of Prisons

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

November 19, 2018

KENNETH WAYNE LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
BUREAU OF PRISONS, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

         1. Introduction.

         Plaintiff Kenneth Wayne Lewis ("Plaintiff'), an inmate at FCI Fort Dix in Fort Dix, New Jersey, commenced this action on July 26, 2017. (D.I. 1) Plaintiff proceeds pro se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (D.I. 45) The Amended Complaint (D.I. 32) is the operative pleading. The Court screens and reviews the Amended Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) and §1915A(a).

         2. Background.

         In February 2014, Plaintiff was found guilty by a jury on a fifteen-count indictment (Counts 1-4 wire fraud; Counts 5-15 money laundering) in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, United States v. Lewis, Crim. No. 12-10082). See Lewis v. Sessions, 2017 WL 3531477, at *1 (D.N.J. Aug. 17, 2017). In June 2014, Plaintiff received a 151-month sentence on the wire fraud convictions and a 120-month sentence on the money laundering convictions to be served consecutively to each other for a total of 271 months imprisonment, id. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated the convictions for money laundering and remanded to the district court for resentencing on the wire fraud convictions. Id. An amended judgment was entered on August 22, 2016, and Plaintiff was resentenced to 135 months imprisonment on the four wire fraud count convictions. Id.

         3. In the instant case, the original Complaint sought to bring criminal charges against various federal Defendants. (D.I. 29) The original Complaint was also construed as raising a claim under the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, with respect to records maintained by the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"). On November 3, 2017, Plaintiffs applications to proceed in forma pauperis (D.I. 1-4, 21) were denied without prejudice because Plaintiff failed to include a certified six-month trust fund account statement as required by 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), and the case was administratively closed. (D.I. 29)

         4. Plaintiff was advised that if he opted to proceed with this civil action, within 45 days he was to: (1) submit a complete in forma pauperis application and certified six-month account statement; (2) clarify the types of claims he wished to assert; and (3) submit a single all-inclusive Amended Complaint that complied with Rules 8 and 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, (/of.) Plaintiff was advised that he could not bring a criminal complaint in this Court and that his only options were to either have the Court construe his allegations as Bivens [1] claims or have them dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. (Id.) Plaintiff was provided a complaint form[2] and an in form pauperis application. (Id.)

         5. On November 14, 2017, Plaintiff submitted an affidavit of pleading, on November 28, 2017, he submitted an affidavit of declaration, and on December 4, 2017, he submitted a new in forma pauperis application, a certified copy of his prison trust account, and an Amended Complaint. (D.I. 30, 31, 32) On December 7, 2017, the case was reopened. Plaintiff continued filing affidavits and documents, some of which appear to be motions, including a request for default even though no Defendant had been served, and the Amended Complaint had not been screened. (D.I. 33-43) The matter was assigned to me on September 26, 2018. (D.I. 44)

         6. Amended Complaint. As noted, Plaintiff was directed to submit a single all-inclusive Amended Complaint that complied with Fed. R. Civ. 8 and 15. Within a very short time after submitting the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff submitted a document that contained several exhibits. (See D.l. 33) Accordingly, in screening the Amended Complaint the Court considers the Amended Complaint (D.l. 32) and the exhibits at D.l. 33. Plaintiff's numerous other filings are not considered to the extent Plaintiff intended them as supplements, addenda, amendments, or exhibits to the Amended Complaint.

         7. The Amended Complaint names 234 Defendants. (D.l. 32 at 5-12) The Amended Complaint: (1) alleges violations of the Privacy Act due to inaccurate records under 5 U.S.C. §§ 552a(e)(5), 552a(g), 552a(g)(l)(c), and 552a(g)(4); (2) invokes the False Claim Act, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729(a)(2), 3729(a)(3), and 3730 as a means to establish "commercial liens"; (3) speaks to conspiracy and violations of the right to due process; (4) alludes to violations of federal criminal law and refers to 18 U.S.C. §§ 4, 10, 1001, 1201, 1203, 1346; and (5) seeks habeas relief, including immediate release, due to illegal incarceration.

         8. The Amended Complaint also refers to a multitude of "lien debtors." (Id. at 22-28) Of the 234 Defendants, only ten Defendants are specifically mentioned in the Amended Complaint (the ten Defendants specifically mentioned in the allegations will be referred to "the named Defendants"). They are the United States Department of Justice ("USDOJ"), Case Manager Boyd ("Boyd"), Probation Officer David Burgess ("Burgess"), Probation Officer Mary Kennedy ("Kennedy"), retired Ft. Dix Associate Warden Laura Mason ("Mason"), Ft. Dix Warden David Ortiz ("Warden Ortiz"), the BOP, Patricia Sanges ("Sanges"), [3] United States District Court Judge James Shadid ("Judge Shadid"), [4] and United States Magistrate Judge Jonathan E. Hawley ("Judge Hawley").[5]

         9. For relief, Plaintiff seeks compensatory damages and financial remedies to "address the wrong of inaccurate files and records" and penal liability requiring "full value" compensation. (D.I. 32 at 29-30) Plaintiff also seeks the issuance of subpoenas to prove inaccurate files and records. (Id. at 29-30) He alleges that the "subpoenas will depict that there was a violation of 'due process, '" and the inaccurate files and records permitted his illegal imprisonment. (Id. at 30) The documents he seeks are all related to his underlying criminal conviction. Plaintiff also seeks his immediate release, and the government's return of all his seized funds and property. (Id.)

         10. Legal Standards. A federal court may properly dismiss an action sua sponte under the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and § 1915A(b) if "the action is frivolous or malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief." Ball v. Famiglio, 726 F.3d 448, 452 (3d Cir. 2013). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2) (in forma pauperis actions); 28 U.S.C. § 1915A (actions in which prisoner seeks redress from a governmental defendant); 42 U.S.C. § 1997e (prisoner actions brought with respect to prison conditions). The Court must accept all factual allegations in a complaint as true and take them in the light most favorable to a pro se plaintiff. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 229 (3d Cir. 2008); Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007). Because Plaintiff proceeds pro se, his pleading is liberally construed and his Amended Complaint, "however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. at 94 (citations omitted).

         11. An action is frivolous if it "lacks an arguable basis either in law or in fact." Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) and § 1915A(b)(1), a court may dismiss a complaint as frivolous if it is "based on an indisputably meritless legal theory" or a "clearly baseless" or "fantastic or delusional" factual scenario. Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327-28; Wilson v. Rackmill, 878 F.2d 772, 774 (3d Cir. 1989).

         12. The legal standard for dismissing a complaint for failure to state a claim pursuant to § 1915(e)(2)(B)(ii) and § 1915A(b)(1) is identical to the legal standard used when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions. Tourscher v. McCullough,184 F.3d 236, 240 (3d Cir. 1999). However, before dismissing a complaint or claims for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted pursuant to the screening provisions of 28 U.S.C. ยงยง1915 and 1915A, the Court must grant ...


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