granting relief to defendant who experienced multiple cardiac arrests at Terminal IslandSummary of this case from United States v. Lopez
Case No. 18-cr-4662-BAS-1
ORDER GRANTING MOTION FOR COMPASSIONATE RELEASE (ECF No. 62)
On November 27, 2018, Mr. Gaitan pled guilty to transporting illegal aliens in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1324. (ECF No. 30.) According to the Presentence Report ("PSR") (ECF No. 40), Mr. Gaitan was arrested driving an SUV with four illegal aliens hidden inside. (PSR ¶¶ 4-5). He was seen driving at a high rate of speed and initially failed to stop for the Border Patrol. (Id.) Defendant has prior convictions for possessing a stolen vehicle and fleeing from a peace officer, as well as several vehicle code violations. (PSR ¶¶ 30, 32.)
On October 17, 2019, the Court sentenced Mr. Gaitan to ten months in custody, followed by three years of supervised release. (ECF No. 56.) Mr. Gaitan self-surrendered to begin serving his sentence on January 10, 2020, and has now served approximately six months of his ten month sentence. (ECF No. 57.)
Mr. Gaitan is almost thirty years old. At the time of his Probation interview he "reported he is physically healthy overall," but that he suffers from an arrythmia and has a defibrillator installed to manage his heart rate. (PSR ¶ 48.) Mr. Gaitan moves for compassionate release and home confinement. He asserts that he has contracted the COVID-19 virus and has recently experienced two cardiac arrests as a result. (ECF No. 62 ("Motion") at 2.) He further states "medical staff has been too overwhelmed to assist [him] with further follow up." (Id.) Mr. Gaitan claims that, as of May 12, 2020, the facility he is incarcerated at—FCI Terminal Island—is reporting 150 active cases with 552 "recovered." (Id. at 8.)
The Court notes that the current Bureau of Prisons website, which may or may not be up to date, reports 6 inmates positive, 2 staff positive, 675 inmates recovered, 15 staff recovered, and 10 deaths at Terminal Island from the corona virus. www.bop.gov/coronavirus (last visited June 24, 2020). --------
Mr. Gaitan claims he submitted a request for release to the Warden on March 27, but, as of, June 2, 2020, the warden had not yet made a determination about his request for release. (Motion at 13.) The Government has filed a Notice of Non-Opposition to the Motion seeking immediate release, but asks that (1) Mr. Gaitan be required to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement at his mother's house in San Bernardino; (2) the Court delay release for 14 days and require Mr. Gaitan to quarantine at Terminal Island pending release; and (3) the Court require medical clearance from the Bureau of Prisons before his release. (ECF No. 60.)
Under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(1)(A), a court may, in certain circumstances, grant a defendant's motion to modify his or her term of imprisonment. Before filing such a motion, the defendant must first petition the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") for compassionate release. 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A). A court may grant the defendant's motion for a modification in sentence only if the motion was filed "after the defendant has fully exhausted all administrative rights to appeal a failure of the [BOP] to bring a motion on the defendant's behalf" or "the lapse of 30 days from the receipt of such a request by the warden of the defendant's facility, whichever is earlier." Id.
In this case, Mr. Gaitan submitted a request for release to the Warden on March 27. Thirty days have lapsed since that request. Therefore, Mr. Gaitan has fully exhausted his administrative remedies.
If the exhaustion requirement is met, a court may modify or reduce the defendant's term of imprisonment "after considering the factors set forth in [18 U.S.C.] section 3553(a)]" if the Court finds, as relevant here, that "extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction" and "such a reduction is consistent with applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission." 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A).
Mr. Gaitan presents "extraordinary and compelling reasons" to reduce his sentence. He has contracted the COVID-19 virus and has experienced two cardiac arrests as a result. The infection rate at Terminal Island where he is being housed is high. There is certainly a strong possibility that he will continue to face complications because of his exposure and his heart problems. Therefore, the Court agrees that extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant a sentence reduction.
Further, the Court finds a reduction is consistent with the applicable policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission. Mr. Gaitan has served more than half of his sentence. His health conditions, although mentioned at the time of sentencing, were not as severe as they now appear to be. The reduction of his sentence is supported by the § 3553(a) factors.
The Court GRANTS Mr. Gaitan's Motion for Compassionate Release. (ECF No. 62.) The Court modifies Mr. Gaitan's sentence to a time served sentence followed by three years of supervised release under all of the same terms and conditions as were initially imposed at the time of the original sentence. The Court will accordingly enter an Amended Judgment. The Court will not impose home confinement as an additional condition of supervised release. However, the Court will require Mr. Gaitan to quarantine for a period of 14 days after release from custody. The Court delegates to the Bureau of Prisons the best way to accomplish that quarantine.
IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: June 24, 2020
Hon. Cynthia Bashant
United States District Judge