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United States v. Lake

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

August 30, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ARVIL LAKE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DANNY C. REEVES, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Defendant Arvil Lake has filed a motion for compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c). [Record No. 225] It is unclear whether Lake has exhausted his administrative remedies. But regardless, he has not demonstrated extraordinary or compelling circumstances to justify relief. Accordingly, his motion will be denied.

         I.

         Lake and his co-defendants were involved in a scheme to use personal identifying information of inmates, without their consent, to file fraudulent federal tax refunds. Lake pleaded guilty to mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1028A(a)(1). [Record No. 112] He was sentenced to 38 months imprisonment and ordered to pay $60,922.00 in restitution. [Record No. 202] Lake did not file a direct appeal.

         Lake now seeks compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A). [Record No. 225] He claims that he is not doing well in terms of his health and he has asked the warden for compassionate release, but the warden has not responded. Lake explains that he is 70 years old and suffering from a terminal illness and a serious physical or medical condition that prevents him from caring for himself while in prison. He does not specify the alleged terminal illness.

         In its response, the United States has submitted a letter from Francisco Rios, the Clinical Director of FCI Ashland, verifying that a comprehensive medical evaluation of Lake has been performed during Lake’s period of incarceration. The evaluation demonstrates that Lake does not meet the criteria under the Bureau of Prisons Program Statement 5050.50 for release prior to service of his sentence. [Record No. 228-1]

         Lake suffers from the following chronic, but stable medical conditions: seizure disorder with no seizure activity for more than five years, coronary artery disease, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, hypothyroidism, cerebral vascular accident, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic low back pain, and restless leg syndrome. In fact, Lake suffered from all of these ailments prior to arriving at FCI Ashland.

         Rios further explains that Lake has been evaluated and is receiving treatment for cardiac dysrhythmia. However, Lake remains stable on his current medication, has no problem ambulating with the use of a cane, is able to provide self-care, and his activities of daily living are unaffected by his conditions. Rios states that Lake can independently manage bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and can stand for counts. Finally, Rios notes that Lake is being monitored routinely and his medical condition is being maintained at the facility.

         II.

         Title 18 of the United States Code, section 3582(c)(1)(A), allows the Court to modify a term of imprisonment for “extraordinary and compelling reasons” or if the defendant is at least 70 years of age and has served at least 30 years in prison. The defendant has served less than two years in prison, so he cannot seek relief under § 3582(c)(1)(A)(ii) based on his age and length of service of his sentence. Accordingly, Lake is entitled to the relief sought only if he is able to demonstrate extraordinary or compelling reasons to justify a reduction in his term of imprisonment.

         Prior to the passage of the First Step Act of 2018, a court could only consider a motion for compassionate release from the Director of the Bureau of Prisons. However, section 603 of the First Step Act modified 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) to allow a defendant the opportunity to appeal the denial of a request for compassionate release after exhausting his administrative remedies or if the warden failed to act within 30 days from receiving a request for compassionate release. Pub. L. No. 115-391, § 603(b).

         Lake asserted in his present motion that 30 days had elapsed since he requested relief from the warden; however, he has not stated when he requested relief for medical or age-related reasons. The government explains in its response that the Bureau of Prisons compassionate release database and coordinator, along with the defendant’s unit manager at FCI Ashland, indicate that Lake never filed a compassionate release request with the warden at FCI Ashland. But even if Lake had exhausted his administrative remedies, or if 30 days had elapsed since he had requested relief, his motion would be denied because he has not offered an extraordinary or compelling circumstance that would justify a modification of the term of imprisonment.

         The Court may modify a sentence for extraordinary and compelling reasons, but only if “such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission.” 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A). “28 U.S.C. § 994 authorizes the United States Sentencing Commission to define ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons.’” United States v. Handerhan, No. 1:10-CR-00298, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55367, at *1 (M.D. Pa. Apr. 1, 2019).

         The policy statement discussing compassionate release requires: (1) extraordinary or compelling reasons to warrant a reduction in a defendant’s sentence, (2) that the defendant is not a danger to the safety of others or the community, and (3) that release from custody complies with § 3553(a) factors. United States Sentencing ...


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