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Mazzini v. Breckon

United States District Court, N.D. New York

October 31, 2017

M. BRECKON, Respondent.



         Marcos Mazzini, a federal prisoner proceeding pro se, filed a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus with this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Mazzini is in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons ("BOP") and incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution ("FCI") Ray Brook. In his Petition before this Court, Mazzini does not contest his judgment of conviction but rather challenges the constitutionality of a prison disciplinary hearing arising out of his receipt by mail of pornographic material. Respondent has answered, and Mazzini has not replied.


         On July 7, 2015, Mazzini was charged with a Code 296 violation for receiving mail through unauthorized means, in accordance with 28 C.F.R. § 541.5. The Incident Report stated:

On 07-07-2015 at approximately 6:30 am, I was processing incoming mail, as I was inspecting a book addressed to Inmate Mazzini #11476-051, 1 found two pornographic dvd's hidden in the back cover of the book. The 2 dvd's [were] wrapped in carbon paper and were secreted in the back by separating the binding of the book and gluing it back together.

         The Incident Report was issued to Mazzini by Lieutenant S. Gianelli that morning at 11:30 a.m. In accordance with 28 C.F.R. § 541.5(b), Lt. Gianelli read the officer's written statement of the Incident Report, reviewed photos of the contraband, and interviewed Mazzini. In the section of the Incident Report labeled "Part Ill-Investigation, " Lt. Gianelli noted that Mazzini stated, "Someone used my name to get this mail into the institution." According to Lt. Gianelli's investigation, Mazzini displayed a poor attitude during the investigation. Lt. Gianelli concluded that the charge was warranted, based upon the report as written and the supporting documentation, and referred the Incident Report to the Unit Discipline Committee ("UDC") for review.

         The UDC then conducted its review in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 541.7. The UDC dismissed Mazzini's denial of responsibility, noting that an individual sending concealed contraband would expect that the receiver would know where to look for it. In accordance with 28 C.F.R. § 541.7(a)(3), the committee forwarded the incident report to the Discipline Hearing Officer ("DHO") for further action on the charge.

         Unit Manager M. Rivera provided Mazzini notice of his hearing before the DHO. He also advised Mazzini of his right to have a full-time staff member represent him at the DHO hearing, and Mazzini chose a teacher at FCI Ray Brook to be his staff representative. Unit Manager Rivera also informed Mazzini of his conditional right to call witnesses for his DHO hearing. Mazzini declined to identify any witnesses. Mazzini acknowledged both his selection of staff representative and his waiver of witnesses by signing a "Notice of Discipline Hearing Before the DHO" form. Mazzini also acknowledged receipt of information about his rights by signing an "Inmate Rights at Disciplinary Hearing" form.

         The DHO conducted Mazzini's disciplinary hearing on July 16, 2015. The DHO reviewed Mazzini's due process rights with him at the hearing, and Mazzini stated that he understood his rights, presented his documentary evidence, and requested no witnesses. The DHO summarized Mazzini's statement as follows:

Inmate Mazzini stated that he was ready to proceed. He requested a staff representative who was present. He requested no witnesses, and stated that he understood his rights before the DHO. He stated that he received a copy of the Incident Report. Inmate Mazzini stated that the incident report is not true as written. Mazzini stated that he did not have anything to do with trying to introduce anything into the institution. Most of the people writing me owe me money because I ran a store. I don't receive any mail. My parents live in another country and I e-mail my daughter. I have no connections. I don't know who this is from. I am doing 20 years because people have told on me.

         Relying upon the reporting officer's written statement in Section 11 of the incident report, photos of the evidence showing that the package was addressed to Mazzini as well as photos showing how the contraband was hidden in the book, the DHO concluded that Mazzini had committed Use of Mail for Abuses Other Than Criminal Activity (Code 296A) and sanctioned him to a total of 27 days of loss of Good Conduct Time, 10 days' disciplinary segregation, 60 days of loss of commissary privileges, and 60 days of loss of e-mail privileges.

         Mazzini challenged the outcome of his DHO hearing by Regional Administrative Remedy Appeal No. 831977-R2, arguing that there was insufficient evidence to support the DHO's adverse decision. The Regional Director denied the appeal, citing that" [t]he decision of the DHO was based upon the greater weight of the evidence." He then appealed the Regional Director's denial on substantially similar grounds. As of the filing of the instant Petition, Mazzini had not received a response to his Central Office appeal within the time frame alloted by BOP regulations and was therefore free to treat the absence of a timely response as a denial. See 28 C.F.R. § 542.18.

         Mazzini then filed a pro se Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus ...

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