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United States v. Gundy

United States District Court, Second Circuit

May 22, 2013



J. PAUL OETKEN, District Judge.

Defendant Herman Avery Gundy is charged with one count of failing to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2250. Gundy has moved to dismiss the Indictment. For the reasons that follow, his motion is granted.

I. Background

On July 11, 1994, Gundy pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 ("the Federal Conviction"). On February 5, 1996, he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment and five years' supervised release. In 2004, jurisdiction over Gundy was transferred from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to the District of Maryland.

On October 3, 2005, Gundy entered an Alford plea in a Maryland state court to the crime of Sexual Offense in the Second Degree ("the Maryland Conviction"). That same day, he was sentenced in Maryland state court to 20 years' imprisonment and five years' probation, with 10 years of the 20-year sentence suspended.

On March 23, 2006, Gundy appeared in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland and admitted to a violation of his federal supervised release based on the Maryland Conviction. He was sentenced to 24 months' imprisonment and the remainder of his supervised release was terminated. This sentence was to be served consecutively to his Maryland sentence.

On June 15, 2011, Gundy was transferred from the custody of Maryland to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to serve the sentence imposed by virtue of his violation of the terms of his supervised release. Ultimately, he was sent to FCI Schuylkill in Minersville, Pennsylvania.

On March 23, 2012, Gundy signed a "Community Based Program Agreement." The Agreement contemplated that he would become "a resident" of an unspecified "residential reentry center [RRC] or work release program." On May 8, 2012, he signed a form titled "Conditions of Furlough." On June 7, 2012, Gundy signed a "Furlough Application - Approval and Record, " which indicated that the "[p]urpose of the visit" that he sought was "[p]lacement in [an] RRC" in the Bronx, New York. This application stated that the "Method of Transportation" would be "bus/taxi." On June 12, 2012, the warden of FCI Schuylkill approved Gundy's furlough. That day, the warden signed a "Transfer Order" authorizing Gundy's transfer from FCI Schuylkill to the Bronx Residential Re-Entry Center in the Bronx, New York ("the Bronx RRC"). Gundy acknowledged that:

I understand that if approved, I am authorized to be only in the area of the destination shown above and at ordinary stopovers or points on a direct route to or from that destination. I understand that my furlough only extends the limits of my confinement and that I remain in the custody of the Attorney General of the United States.

The furlough conditions limited approval to Gundy's "remain[ing] in the legal custody of the U.S. Attorney General, in service to a term of imprisonment." The warden also signed a form stating that Gundy had been "authorized for unescorted commitment" to the Bronx RRC.

On July 17, 2012, Gundy traveled via Greyhound bus from Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania to New York City and reported to the Bronx RRC. He was released from the Bronx RRC on August 27, 2012. Upon being released from the Bronx RRC, Gundy remained in the Bronx. He did not register as a sex offender in either New York or Maryland.

On September 13, 2012, Maryland issued a warrant for Gundy's arrest based on violation of the conditions of his probation relating to the Maryland Conviction. On October 24, 2012, law enforcement personnel arrested Gundy in the Bronx and transferred him to the custody of Maryland. Gundy was later transferred to the custody of the BOP. On January 7, 2012, Gundy was charged in this District with one count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 2250.

II. Standard of Review

"Since federal crimes are solely creatures of statute, a federal indictment can be challenged on the ground that it fails to allege a crime within the terms of the applicable statute." United states v. Zahavi, 12 Cr. 288, 2012 WL 5288743, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2012) (quoting United States v. Aleynikov, 676 F.3d 71, 75-76 (2d Cir. 2012)); see also Fed. R. Crim. P. 12(b)(2) ("A party may raise by pretrial motion any defense, objection, or request that the court can determine without a trial of the general issue."). "An indictment is sufficient when it charges a crime with sufficient precision to inform the defendant of the charges he must meet and with enough detail that he may plead double jeopardy in a future prosecution based on the same set of events." United States v. Stavroulakis, 952 F.2d 686, 693 (2d Cir. 1992).

III. Discussion


On July 27, 2006, Congress enacted the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 ("the Walsh Act"), Pub. L. No. 109-248, 120 Stat. 587. Title I of the Walsh Act codified SORNA, the declared purpose of which is to "protect the public from sex offenders and offenders against children... [by] establish[ing] a comprehensive national system for the registration of those offenders." 42 U.S.C. § 16901. Congress's principal purpose in enacting SORNA was "to make sure sex offenders could not avoid all registration requirements just by moving to another state." United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83, 91 (2d Cir. 2010). As the Second Circuit has explained, "[r]equiring sex offenders to update their registrations due to intrastate changes of address or employment status is a perfectly logical way to help ensure that states will more effectively be able to track sex offenders when they do cross state lines." Id.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 2250(a) makes it a federal crime for certain sex offenders to violate SORNA's registration requirements. Section 2250 provides:

(a) In General.- Whoever-
(1) is required to register under [SORNA];
(A) is a sex offender as defined for the purposes of [SORNA] by reason of a conviction under Federal law (including the Uniform Code of Military Justice), the law of the District of Columbia, Indian tribal law, or the law of any territory or possession of the United States; or
(B) travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or enters or leaves, or resides in, Indian country; and
(3) knowingly fails to register or update a registration as required by [SORNA];
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.
(b) Affirmative Defense.- In a prosecution for a violation under subsection (a), it is an ...

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