Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

VENETUCCI v. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

June 28, 2005.

ROBERT VENETUCCI, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ALLYNE ROSS, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Robert Venetucci, a federal inmate who was extradited to, and convicted in, Italy and who subsequently agreed, as a condition of his voluntary transfer to a United States prison, that any legal proceeding challenging his conviction or sentence had to be brought in Italy, brings this pro se action seeking a declaratory judgment vacating his conviction and life sentence. Although plaintiff has paid the filing fee, this action is nonetheless dismissed for the reasons set forth below.

Background

  On September 27, 1983, an Italian judge issued a warrant for plaintiff's arrest on charges of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. See Matter of Sindona, 584 F.Supp. 1437, 1446, 1447 (E.D.N.Y. 1984). On May 3, 1984, Judge Glasser granted Italy's request for extradition, finding, inter alia, that the offenses with which plaintiff was charged were extraditable and that the requirements of "double criminality" were satisfied. Id. at 1452.

  Shortly after plaintiff's extradition to Italy, the Italian Government requested the consent of the United States, pursuant to Article XVI(1)(c) of the 1983 Extradition Treaty between the United States and Italy, to try plaintiff on the additional charge of complicity in premeditated murder. Amended Complaint, ¶¶ 20, 22. The United States Government consented, and that consent was communicated to the Italian Embassy by the United States Department of State on January 2, 1985. Id., Ex. B. In 1986, plaintiff was convicted in Italy of both murder and aggravated extortion and sentenced to life imprisonment. See Ventucci v. LeBlanc, No. Civ. 03-944 ADM/AJB, 2003 WL 24013824, at *1 (D.Minn. Apr. 10, 2003).

  In 1997, plaintiff requested a transfer to the United States. Id. At a hearing held pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4108, plaintiff verified his consent to the transfer and agreed, both orally and in writing, that any legal proceedings challenging his conviction or sentence had to be brought in Italy. Ventucci v. Reese, 46 Fed. Appx. 381, 382, 2002 WL 31016425, at *1 (8th Cir. 2002). In March 1998, plaintiff was transferred to the United States, and is currently incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota.

  Plaintiff's Prior Petitions for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

  Notwithstanding his agreement not to challenge his Italian conviction and sentence in United States courts, plaintiff filed at least three petitions for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota following his return to the United States. In October 1998, plaintiff filed a petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, asserting "that his sentence was illegal because the United States had no right under the Constitution to detain him . . . [and] that the transfer treaty between Italy and the United States was `defective and illegal.'" Ventucci v. LeBlanc, 2003 WL 24013824, at *1. Magistrate Judge John Mason addressed that petition on the merits and recommended that it be dismissed, finding that plaintiff's "request to transfer to the United States was made `knowingly and understandingly' and was `wholly voluntary.'" Id. That recommendation was adopted by District Judge Ann Montgomery and the petition was dismissed with prejudice on August 17, 1999. Id.

  In June 2001, plaintiff filed a second petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, raising issues which appear quite similar to issues being raised herein. In that petition, plaintiff argued, inter alia, "that the additional charge of complicity to commit murder was presented against him in Italy in violation of due process, the Ex Post Facto Clause and treaties between Italy and the United States." Id. at *2. Magistrate Judge Mason again recommended that the petition be dismissed, this time on the ground that plaintiff had failed to make the showing necessary for the court to consider a second and successive petition. Id. Judge Montgomery again adopted the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, and dismissed the petition with prejudice on February 12, 2002. Id.

  Plaintiff then appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which declined to reach the successiveness issue. Rather, the Eighth Circuit addressed the merits of plaintiff's petition and held that his challenge to his continued incarceration was foreclosed by his agreement to challenge his conviction and sentence only in Italy. See Venetucci v. Reese, 46 Fed. Appx. at 382, 2002 WL 31016425, at *1. Noting that such agreements were consistent with federal law and rejecting plaintiff's claim that his consent to transfer was not voluntary, the Eighth Circuit concluded that "the record plainly demonstrates that the claim is without merit." Id.

  On January 29, 2003 — less than four months after the Eighth Circuit dismissed his second habeas petition — plaintiff filed a third action, asserting that his consent to the transfer had not been made knowingly. Although plaintiff argued that "his claims [were] separate and independent from habeas corpus," Magistrate Judge Arthur J. Boylan rejected this argument, stating that in order to obtain relief, plaintiff "must petition for a writ of habeas corpus." Ventucci v. LeBlanc, 2003 WL 24013824, at *4-*5. Magistrate Judge Boylan analyzed the submission under both the "second and successive" restriction of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (the "AEDPA") and the common law abuse of writ principles and recommended that the petition be dismissed with prejudice. Magistrate Judge Boylan's Report and Recommendation was adopted by Judge Montgomery, who noted that, regardless of whether plaintiff's submission was reviewed "as a § 2241 petition, or . . . a § 3244 All Writs Act petition," the issues plaintiff sought to raise had "been previously considered and rejected by both the District Court and the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals." Ventucci v. LeBlanc, No. Civ. 03-944 ADM/AJB, 2003 WL 21057066, at *2 (D.Minn. May 9, 2003).

  Plaintiff's Complaint and Amended Complaint

  In April 2005, plaintiff commenced this action, alleging that defendant Department of State violated various sections of Title 18 of the United States Code, two extradition treaties between the United States and Italy and plaintiff's Constitutional rights by communicating the United States Government's consent to have Italy try plaintiff on the murder charge. Plaintiff's complaint contended that the consent to "try" plaintiff was "not consent to . . . punishment or detention," Complaint, ¶ 15 (emphasis omitted); that the 1983 Extradition Treaty was inapplicable because the murder allegedly occurred prior to its enactment and that the use of this treaty was not only "prejudicial to [p]laintiff" but violated "the Ex Post Facto Clause," id. at ¶¶ 17-18, 24; that defendant's "consent" was unauthorized because no judicial officer had certified that plaintiff was extraditable for the murder charge, id. at ¶¶ 21-23; that Italy subsequently added further charges (such as participation in aggravated private violence) on which plaintiff was never extradited and to which defendant never consented, id. at ¶ 25 and that, "[a]bsent the unlawful Additional Charge and Further Charges, Plaintiff's term of imprisonment would have [already] ended. . . ." Id. at ¶ 27. The only relief plaintiff sought was an order declaring "the detention, conviction and punishment for the Additional Crimes and Further Crimes . . . void ab initio." Id. at p. 4.

  Plaintiff's complaint made no mention of the lengthy procedural history of his case. Moreover, although plaintiff provided an address at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota, plaintiff did not make any allegations concerning the place of his incarceration. Plaintiff, who certified that he had served the Department of State at a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.