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United States v. Diggs

United States District Court, D. Maryland

July 31, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
PATRICIA YVONNE DIGGS, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Paula Xinis United States District Judge.

         Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Modify Conditions of Supervised Release or, in the Alternative, Correct Judgment. ECF No. 503. The matter is fully briefed, and a motions hearing was held on May 23, 2018. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 3, 2017, the Grand Jury for the District of Maryland indicted Patricia Yvonne Diggs (“Diggs” or “Ms. Diggs”) for Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344. See ECF No. 346. After trial, the jury found Diggs guilty of the sole count pending against her. See ECF No. 373. Diggs was sentenced two days in prison (time served), followed by five years of supervised release with a special condition that she serve six months of home detention with location monitoring and six months of “intermittent confinement” in a Bureau of Prisons facility. See ECF No. 444.

         At sentencing, the Court initially ordered Diggs to serve six months imprisonment followed by a term of supervised release, and made clear that this sentence is sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve all purposes of sentencing as set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). ECF No. 492 at 80:12-17; ECF No. 492 at 84:8-9; ECF No. 492 at 86:5-6. It was at this point in the proceedings that Diggs, to use her words, “begged” to defer service of her prison term until after her daughter's high school graduation in May 2018. ECF No. 492 at 83:4-16. As grounds, Diggs noted that because her husband is serving a lengthy prison term for his role in masterminding the bank-fraud scheme in which Ms. Diggs had participated, she was left as the sole caretaker and provider for her daughter. Ms. Diggs requested the deferral of her prison term so that she could ensure that her daughter's school tuition was paid and that her daughter graduated high school with minimal disruption. ECF No. 492 at 83:4-16. To accommodate this particular family need, the Court altered the sentence in form but not function and imposed the same six-month incarceration term as a special condition of supervised release with service of the prison term to begin after June 2018 (the date of her daughter's graduation). See ECF No. 444.

         Although Diggs today challenges the legality of imposing a period of confinement as a condition of supervised release, at sentencing Diggs remained mum as to this point. In fact, neither the Government nor Diggs raised any concern about the propriety of imposing six months confinement as a condition of supervised release, least of all Ms. Diggs, because quite simply, she was getting the sentence she wanted and urged this Court to impose it.

         After sentencing, Diggs also never moved to alter or amend her sentence pursuant to Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. And although Diggs timely noted her appeal on the underlying conviction, she also never challenged any aspect of her sentence on appeal.[1] Nor has she sought any relief via habeas corpus petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255.

         Instead, Diggs moved to modify her conditions of supervised release on April 13, 2018, asking that this Court substitute her confinement period with an additional six months of home detention. See ECF No. 503. On May 21, 2018, Diggs supplemented her argument by asserting that the requested modification was warranted because the Court was without legal authority to impose intermittent confinement as a condition of supervised release. See generally ECF No. 512. On May 23, 2018, the Court held a motions hearing and thereafter ordered supplemental briefing. ECF No. 513. For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Defendant's motion.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motion to Amend Conditions of Supervised Release

         At the motions hearing, the Court denied Diggs' motion to modify supervised release conditions to substitute confinement in prison with home confinement based on “changed circumstances.” ECF No. 513. The Court noted that no changed circumstances warranted such an amendment. To be sure, Diggs has done well on supervised release, but that is expected of her. Diggs simply provided no evidence that called into question the Court's initial determination that six months imprisonment was sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve all purposes of sentencing.

         At bottom, the hearing clarified that Diggs principally sought this modification to cure what she viewed as an “illegal” condition of supervised release, and maintained that the Court was without authority to impose six months confinement as a condition of supervised release.[2]She asks the Court to right this wrong by eliminating the confinement condition and substituting additional home detention in its place and pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(2). See ECF No. 512 & ECF No. 515. Neither the law nor equity commands this result, and so the Court denies Diggs' motion.

         By its plain terms, section 3583(e) permits the Court to modify conditions of supervised release “after considering the factors set forth in section 3553(a)(1), (a)(2)(B), (a)(2)(C), (a)(2)(D), (a)(4), (a)(5), (a)(6) and (a)(7).” These particularly ...


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