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DeHart v. Streeval

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Northern Division, Ashland

September 3, 2019

MATTHEW DeHART, Petitioner,
v.
J.C. STREEVAL, ET AL., Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HENRY R. WILHOIT, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Petitioner Matthew DeHart is an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI")-Ashland, located in Ashland, Kentucky. Represented by counsel, DeHart has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, in which he challenges the computation of his sentence by the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), specifically whether he is entitled to 439 days of foreign custody credit. [D.E. No. 1] The Respondent has filed his response to the petition [D.E. No. 10], and DeHart has filed a reply. [D.E. No. 12] Thus, this matter is ripe for review.

         I.

         In his petition, DeHart states that, from 2005 until his 2010 arrest, he was affiliated with the Internet activist group "Anonymous," and was a system administrator for a communal Tor server used by members of that group. [D.E. No.1 at p. 8][1] DeHart alleges that, from 2008 through 2010, "files appeared on this server that among other things, implicated a federal agency in criminal activity against United States citizens, as well as documented apparent malfeasance by American and multinational companies." [Id.] DeHart further claims that, during this period he "was also part of a drone team at one of the main U.S. Drone Operations Centers in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he had access to top secret information." [Id.]

         On August 6, 2010, a warrant was issued for DeHart's arrest based on a criminal complaint filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee alleging that DeHart had knowingly coerced a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purposes of producing any visual depiction of such conduct, knowing that such visual depictions would be transported in interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a). See United States v. Matthew DeHart, No. 3:10-cr-250-1 (M.D. Tenn. 2010).

         According to Respondent, on August 6, 2010, DeHart was arrested in the District of Maine by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") for manufacturing obscene material. [D.E. No. 10-1 at Page ID# 132] However, according to DeHart, on August 6, 2010, he was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") agents after crossing the border from Canada into the United States at the international border crossing in Calais, Maine, because his border crossing set off an alert indicating that he was wanted for questioning in an espionage matter. [D.E. No. 1 at p. 9] DeHart further alleges that the ICE agents subsequently handed DeHart over to the FBI who placed him in a detention cell and then later began interrogating him regarding national security matters. [Id.] DeHart claims that, while he was detained in Maine, FBI agents tortured him (including depriving him of food and sleep) and repeatedly interrogated him without counsel regarding national security matters, despite his repeated requests for counsel. [Id. at p. 9-10]

         His initial appearance was conducted by a United States Magistrate Judge in the District of Maine on August 9, 2010, and continued to August 11, 2010. See United States v. Matthew DeHart, No. 3:10-cr-250-l (M.D. Tenn. 2010). After a detention hearing, the Magistrate Judge determined that DeHart was a flight risk and ordered that he be detained and transferred to the Middle District of Tennessee. On October 6, 2010, a federal grand jury sitting in the Middle District of Tennessee issued an Indictment charging DeHart with one count of production of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2251(a) and 2251(d) (Count One) and one count of transportation of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(1) and 2252(b)(1) (Count Two).

         On May 22, 2012, DeHart was released on bond pending trial, with special conditions. On April 3, 2013, while awaiting trial on the child pornography charges, DeHart entered Canada, requesting refugee protection and political asylum, based on his claims that he had been tortured by the United States authorities when he was detained in Maine and feared persecution if he was returned. [D.E. No. 10-1 at Page ID#: 144-245]

         On April 4, 2013, after DeHart failed to appear for a status conference and detention review hearing, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest by the District Judge in the Middle District of Tennessee. Also on April 4, 2013, DeHart was arrested by the Canada Border Services Agency on the grounds that his refugee claim was suspended pending an admissibility hearing under applicable Canadian law. [D.E. No. 10-1. Reasons for Judgment issued by the Canadian Federal Court, 2013 FC 936, Sept. 5, 2013 at Page ID# 146] On April 8, 2013, DeHart was ordered to be detained on the grounds that he was a danger to the public and unlikely to appear for future immigration proceedings due to the serious nature of the child pornography charges pending against him, the allegations of espionage, and his history of violating court orders. [Id.]

         On August 7, 2013, another detention review hearing was held and DeHart's release was authorized, subject to certain conditions, including GPS monitoring. [Id. at Page ID# 148-149]. However, in April 2014, DeHart failed to report a change of address to the Canadian Border Services Agency. Accordingly, on April 23, 2014, DeHart was rearrested by the Canada Border Services Agency and held in a maximum-security criminal facility after a Canadian court determined that he violated his release conditions.[2]

         DeHart's request for asylum was denied by Canadian authorities and he was deported to the United States on March 1, 2015. On that same day, he was arrested by the FBI at the United States/Canadian border and was turned over to the custody of the United States Marshals.

         On November 12, 2015, a Superseding Information was issued in the Tennessee criminal case charging DeHart with two counts of receiving child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252A(a)(2)(A) and 2252A(b)(1) (Counts One and Two) and one count of failure to appear in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 3146(a)(1) and 3146(b)(1) (Count Three). That same day, and pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States, DeHart pled guilty to the three counts charged in the Superseding Information. On February 22, 2016, DeHart was sentenced in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee to a term of imprisonment of 72 months each on Counts One and Two (to run concurrently with each other) and 18 months on Count Three (to run consecutively to the terms imposed on Counts One and Two), for a total term of imprisonment of 90 months.

         The BOP has computed DeHart's sentence to commence on February 22, 2016, the date it was imposed. DeHart was credited with time spent in custody from August 6, 2010, the original date of his arrest, through May 22, 2012, the date that he was released on bond. DeHart was also credited with time spent in custody from March 1, 2015, the second date of his arrest by federal authorities after his deportation from Canada, through February 21, 2016, the day before the federal sentenced commenced. In addition, DeHart is projected to earn 352 days Good Conduct Time ("GCT"), resulting in a projected Statutory Release Date of November 24, 2019. [D.E. No. 10 at p. 4-5]

         In its original computation of DeHart's sentence, the BOP credited DeHart for all of the time spent in Canadian custody pending his admissibility hearing on his asylum claim. [D.E. No. 1-2] However, on August 21, 2017, after an investigation into the possibility of foreign jail credits in DeHart's case, an official with the Designation and Sentence Computation Center issued a Memorandum for File concluding that DeHart is not authorized credit under 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b) for time detained in Canada because he was detained because he requested asylum and then he was deported to the United States after his asylum request was rejected. [D.E. No. 1-3] Accordingly, the BOP recalculated DeHart's sentence, no longer crediting him with the time spent in Canadian custody. [D.E. No. 1-4]

         In his § 2241 habeas petition filed in this Court, DeHart requests this Court to reinstate his prior custody credit for the approximately 439 days that he spent in detention in Canada, first from April 3, 2013 through August 7, 2013 and then from April 23, 2014 through February 28, 2015. He claims that the BOP only recalculated his sentence to exclude his foreign custody credit after he requested to speak with counsel. In addition, he claims that he accepted his plea agreement because he was led to understand that he would be credited with his time spent in foreign custody, thus the BOP's change in position violates his due process rights and the Double ...


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