United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
GEOFFREY W. FREEMAN, and PIERRE A. MONTANEZ Plaintiffs,
KEVIN REICHARD, JOSHUA SCHOENBECK, and ANDREW SPILLER, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
M. YANDLE U.S. District Judge.
Geoffrey Freeman and Pierre Montanez, inmates in Menard
Correctional Center, bring this action for deprivations of
their constitutional rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1983. Plaintiffs request injunctive relief. This case is now
before the Court for a preliminary review of the Amended
Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, which provides:
(a) Screening - The court shall review, before docketing, if
feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after
docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner
seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or
employee of a governmental entity.
(b) Grounds for Dismissal - On review, the court shall
identify cognizable claims or dismiss the complaint, or any
portion of the complaint, if the complaint-
(1) is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim on
which relief may be granted; or
(2) seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from
action or claim is frivolous if “it lacks an arguable
basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke v.
Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989). Frivolousness is an
objective standard that refers to a claim that any reasonable
person would find meritless. Lee v. Clinton, 209
F.3d 1025, 1026-27 (7th Cir. 2000). An action fails to state
a claim upon which relief can be granted if it does not plead
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). The claim of
entitlement to relief must cross “the line between
possibility and plausibility.” Id. at 557. At
this juncture, the factual allegations of the pro se
complaint are to be liberally construed. See Rodriguez v.
Plymouth Ambulance Serv., 577 F.3d 816, 821 (7th Cir.
careful review of the Amended Complaint and any supporting
exhibits, the Court finds it appropriate to exercise its
authority under § 1915A. Portions of this action are
subject to summary dismissal.
Reichard approached Freeman in 2013 and asked him to act as a
confidential informant. (Doc. 1, p. 11). Freeman has
consistently operated as an informant since that time.
Freeman told Reichard that it would be helpful if he was
celled with someone who spoke Spanish, and suggested
Montanez, whom he knew through a veterans' group. (Doc.
5, p. 13). Freeman and Montanez were able to provide
information about various Security Threat Groups
(“STG”). (Doc. 5, pp. 33-36).
became aware through his work that the Menard Intelligence
Department (“Intel”) engaged in questionable
practices such as: 1) soliciting cellmates to fabricate
confessions to aid in high-profile cases; 2) attempting to
intercept documents protected by attorney-client privilege;
3) setting up prisoners to be attacked if they refused to
cooperate with intel or as a favor to a STG; and 4)
interceding to provide favorable treatment to other
confidential informants, even when they engaged in violent
behavior against other prisoners. (Doc. 1, pp. 11-20, 34).
Freeman also learned that Intel would sometimes be aware of a
threat to a prisoner in advance, but fail to act. In one
instance, a prisoner lost both his eyes in an attack that
intel had prior knowledge about. (Doc. 1, pp. 14-15)
their safety and to aid them in their informant activities,
Montanez and Freeman were continuously housed together from
February 25, 2014 until April 14, 2014 and again from
September 2014 until September 2016. (Doc. 5, pp. 13-14).
Several times beginning in January 2016, Montanez and Freeman
were sent to Stateville on a court writ and brought back
information on STG activity in that institution. (Doc. 5, p.
in the summer of 2016, Freeman informed Reichard that he
would no longer work as a confidential informant because his
criminal case was taking up too much of his time and
attention. (Doc. 5, p. 37). When Freeman and Montanez went to
Stateville on September 14, 2016, Freeman's special diet
was terminated without explanation. Id. Freeman
contacted Reichard about the diet, and Reichard told him that
he was in very deep and couldn't just cut things off.
returned to Menard on September 27, 2016, while Montanez
stayed at Stateville. Id. He began hearing rumors
identifying Montanez and himself as informants - Freeman
ignored the rumors. (Doc. 5, pp. 37-38).
was attacked on October 6, 2016, but did not report the
attack to staff because reporting would have the effect of
confirming the snitch rumor. (Doc. 5, p. 38). He attempted to
contact Reichard, but was unable to reach him. Id.
On October 13, 2016, Freeman was attacked by inmate Austin
and both were written up and sent to segregation for
fighting. Id. Freeman knew Austin worked with
Reichard in the past and that Reichard was behind the attack.
(Doc. 5, p. 17). Freeman alleges that Austin wanted to move
to west house and needed to raise his aggression level to get
placed there. Freeman asserts that he personally advised
Austin to attack another inmate. Id.
left Menard on October 26, 2016 and did not return until
January 11, 2017. (Doc. 5, p. 39). At that point, it became
clear that Intel had leaked Freeman and Montanez's status
as informants to members of various security threat groups.
(Doc. 5, pp. 23, 39). Freeman sought protective custody on
January 12, 2017. Id. Montanez returned to Menard on
February 15, 2017, having no idea that his cover had been
blown. (Doc. 5, p. 23). Freeman told Reichard that Montanez
was a sitting duck and had family members on the outside do
the same. Id. Montanez was placed on protective
custody on February 19, 2017. Id. Freeman alleges
that Reichard told him that Montanez would be his cellmate
for safety reasons. Id. Instead, Montanez was placed
with a Latin King member. Id. Montanez and Freeman
filed an emergency grievance regarding the cell assignment on
March 5, 2017. (Doc. 5, p. 24).
believes that Reichard solicited the Vice Lords to injure him
and Montanez on behalf of Reichard, Schoebeck and Spiller.
(Doc. 5, p. 21). Freeman and Montanez alerted Schoebeck of a
breach. Id. They filed an emergency grievance
regarding Montanez's placement with a STG inmate in
protective custody on March 13, 2017. (Doc. 5, p. 24). That
same day, Montanez was moved in with a Latin King member
known as “Crazy Leggs” who has issues with
Montanez because Montanez would not hide and hold weapons and
drugs for him on the outside. (Doc. 5, p. 21). Freeman and
Montanez told Spiller that they wanted to house together for
safety reasons, but Spiller told them they were on their own.
Id. Freeman also moved further away from Montanez on
March 13, 2017. (Doc. 5, p. 22). He alleges that this move
made him unable to monitor the situation with Montanez. (Doc.
5, p. 24). As a result of the moves, Freeman and Montanez
attempted to sign out of protective custody, but their
requests were ignored. (Doc. 5, p. 25).
March 15, 2017, Spiller told Freeman that he would be moved
back in with Montanez, but this has not happened to date.
(Doc. 5, p. 24). Defendants have threatened to transfer
Freeman and Montanez to Pontiac, which Freeman alleges would
increase the danger of their situation. (Doc. 5, pp. 25-26).
Freeman asserts that he and Montanez pose a threat to
Reichard, Schoenbeck and Spiller because they know about the
workings of the Menard Intelligence Department, including
some of ...