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Rohan Alexander Walters v. Paul Copenhaver

August 9, 2012

ROHAN ALEXANDER WALTERS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
PAUL COPENHAVER,
DEFENDANT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DISMISSING PETITION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, DIRECTING CLERK OF COURT TO TERMINATE ACTION, AND DECLINING TO ISSUE A CERTIFICATE OF APPEALABILITY [Doc. 1]

Petitioner is a federal prisoner proceeding pro se with a petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1), Petitioner has consented to the jurisdiction of the United States magistrate judge. Local Rule 305(b).

DISCUSSION

Petitioner filed the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus on July 18, 2012. In 1997, Petitioner was convicted in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia of conspiracy to distribute marijuana (18 U.S.C. § 846), distribution of marijuana (§ 841(a)(1), conspiracy to launder monetary instruments (§ 1952(a)(h), conducting a financial transaction to promote a specified unlawful activity (§ 1956(a)(1)(A)(i), conducting a financial transaction to conceal the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity (§ 1956 (a)(1)(B)(ii), and making a false statement in application for a passport. See United States v. Walters, No. 2:97-cr-157-2 (S. D. W. Va., December 22, 1997 (ECF Doc. Nos. 234 & 235.)*fn1

Petitioner's conviction was affirmed on appeal. See United States v. Walters, No. 98-4248, 1999 WL 713905 (4th Cir. Sept. 14, 1999).

Petitioner filed a motion under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which was denied on June 1, 2001. See United States v. Walters, No. 2:97-cr-157-2 (ECF Doc. Nos. 505 & 544.) The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied an application for a certificate of appealability and dismissed the appeal. Id. at 559.

On July 12, 2004, Petitioner filed a motion for modification or reduction of his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2), which was denied on March 14, 2006. Id. at 646-647. Petitioner's appeal was denied. See United States v. Walters, No. 06-6617 (4th Cir. Jan. 18, 2007).

On May 28, 2009, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of audita querela pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1651. See Walters v. United States, No. 2:09-cv-589 (S. D. W. Va.). The petition was denied on August 21, 2009. Id.

On November 21, 2011, Petitioner filed a motion for authorization to file a second or successive application for relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. See In re Walters, No. 11-298 (4th Cir. 2011). The petition was denied December 13, 2011. Id.

In the instant petition for writ of habeas corpus, Petitioner argues that he is actually innocent of the money laundering conviction based on the United States Supreme Court decision in United States v. Santos, 553 U.S. 507 (2008), which held in cases which involve a merger problem*fn2 the term "proceeds" in the money laundering statutes must be construed to mean "net profits" rather than "gross receipts." Petitioner also relies on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in United States v. Halstead, 634 F.3d 270 (4th Cir. 2011), which found that the ruling in Santos applied retroactively to cases that involve a merger problem in the context of money laundering and illegal gambling. Id. at 279. The Halstead Court specifically clarified that its holding was not extended to cases involving a merger problem in the context of money laundering and an illegal activity other than illegal gambling. Id.

JURISDICTION

A federal prisoner who wishes to challenge the validity or constitutionality of his conviction or sentence must do so by way of a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct the sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255. Tripati v. Henman, 843 F.2d 1160, 1162 (9th Cir. 1988); Thompson v. Smith, 719 F.2d 938, 940 (8th Cir.1983); In re Dorsainvil, 119 F.3d 245, 249 (3d Cir. 1997); Broussard v. Lippman, 643 F.2d 1131, 1134 (5th Cir. 1981). In such cases, only the sentencing court has jurisdiction. Tripati, 843 F.2d at 1163. A prisoner may not collaterally attack a federal conviction or sentence by way of a petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Grady v. United States, 929 F.2d 468, 470 (9th Cir. 1991); Tripati, 843 F.2d at 1162; United States v. Flores, 616 F.2d 840, 842 (5th Cir. 1980).

In contrast, a federal prisoner challenging the manner, location, or conditions of that sentence's execution must bring a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241. Capaldi v. Pontesso, 135 F.3d 1122, 1123 (6th Cir. 1998); United States v. Tubwell, 37 F.3d 175, 177 (5th Cir. 1994); Kingsley v. Bureau of Prisons, 937 F.2d 26, 30 n.5 (2d Cir. 1991); United States v. Jalili, 925 F.2d 889, 893-94 (6th Cir. 1991); Barden v. Keohane, 921 F.2d 476, 478-79 (3d Cir. 1991); United States v. Hutchings, 835 F.2d 185, 186-87 (8th Cir. 1987); Brown v. United States, 610 F.2d 672, 677 (9th Cir. 1990).

In this case, Petitioner is challenging the validity and constitutionality of his sentence rather than an error in the administration of his sentence. Therefore, the appropriate procedure would be to file a motion pursuant to ...


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