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Romano v. Baer

decided: November 5, 1986.

CARMINE ROMANO, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
v.
BENJAMIN F. BAER, ET AL., RESPONDENTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Terre Haute Division, No. TH 85-67-C, S. Hugh Dillin, Judge.

Author: Bauer

Before BAUER, Chief Judge, WOOD, Jr., Circuit Judge, and CAMPBELL, Senior District Judge.*fn*

BAUER, Chief Judge.

Appellant filed a § 2241 petition for review of a final determination by the Parole Commission to continue him beyond the term provided by the parole guidelines. The Parole Commission supported its determination by citing five aggravating factors which it found warranted longer incarceration. Appellant argues that the five aggravating factors were integral to his convictions, and therefore the Parole Commission was foreclosed from using those same factors to continue appellant beyond the term provided by the guidelines. The district court found that of the five aggravating factors advanced by the Parole Commission, three were not integral to appellant's convictions and entered summary judgment for the respondents. We believe the proper inquiry is whether the aggravating factors were integral to appellant's placement in the severity category-not whether they were integral to appellant's convictions. We agree, however, that summary judgment was appropriate. Accordingly, we affirm.

I.

The facts are not in dispute. The Fulton Fish Market, in New York City, was the site of a massive extortion racket through which merchants paid local union officials for protection from pilfering and theft. Appellant, a ringleader of the racket, is serving a twelve year sentence imposed in February of 1982. He stands convicted of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d); violating RICO, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c); aiding and abetting violations of the Taft-Hartley Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186(b)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2; and misusing union funds, 18 U.S.C. § 1954(1) and (2).

The Parole Commission determines the appropriate term to be served through a two-factor process. First, the underlying offense for which the defendant was convicted is considered, along with any relevant attributes of the crime, to place a defendant in a particular severity category. Next, the defendant is assigned a salient factor score based on individual characteristics which make the defendant a particularly good or bad candidate for parole. Romano received his initial parole hearing in November, 1983 at the United States Penitentiary-Terre Haute. Romano received a salient factor score of 10, the highest score possible, indicating that he was a good candidate for parole. Parole regulations do not provide specific severity categories for RICO violations but instead provide that they should be graded according to the underlying offenses. The defendant was placed in category six, based on the underlying offense of extortion (theft) of over $500,000. The parole guidelines provide that a prisoner with Romano's salient factor score in severity category six, should be released within 40-52 months. Despite this, the panel recommended continuing Romano beyond the range provided, to his mandatory release date, due to factors which it found aggravated the nature of the underlying offense. Romano exhausted his administrative remedies and filed the § 2241 petition now under review.

The Parole Commission continued Romano to expiration based on five aggravating factors:

1. The offense involved "frequent and regular acts of extortion and receipt of illegal labor payments [which] persisted from 1975 through 1980."

2. The total amount extorted exceeded $700,000.

3. The offense involved "a number of highly sophisticated, on-going criminal schemes."

4. The defendant misapplied union welfare and pension trust funds under his control.

5. The defendant abused his position as a senior union officer.

The district court examined the five aggravating factors advanced by the Parole Commission and found that at least three of them furnished a sufficient basis for the determination. The court found that the aggravating factors pertaining to the frequency and regularity of the acts, the sophistication of the crime and the appellant's abuse of his position as a senior union officer were not inherent characteristics of the offenses for which the defendant was convicted. Therefore, the Parole Commission could consider these factors in continuing a prisoner beyond his guidelines. In approving the Parole Commission's action, the district court did not rely on two of the factors advanced (the ...


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