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United States v. Dimasi

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 22, 2017



          WOLF, D.J.

         On November 17, 2016, the court allowed the Director of the Bureau of Prisons1 (the "BOP") motion to reduce defendant Salvatore DiMasi's eight-year sentence to the almost five years DiMasi had served (the "Motion") . See United States v. DiMasi, 2016 WL 6818346 (D. Mass. Nov. 17, 2016) . The Motion was filed pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3582 (c) (1) (A) (i), which gives the court the authority to reduce a sentence if the Director requests it and the court finds that "extraordinary and compelling reasons warrant such a reduction."

         As fully described in the November 17, 2016 Memorandum and Order, the court was informed that, in 2012, while DiMasi was serving his sentence for extortion and related crimes committed while he was the Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, it was discovered that he had cancer in his neck and tongue. He was treated with chemotherapy and radiation. This treatment resulted in DiMasi needing to receive nourishment through a feeding tube for about a year. DiMasi had been free of cancer since at least July 2013.

         Beginning in 2015, the BOP repeatedly denied DiMasi's requests that a motion to reduce his sentence be filed pursuant to §3582(c)(1)(A)(i). However, after the intervention of the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, the BOP reconsidered the matter.

         In August 2016, a medical test was done to evaluate DiMasi's ability to swallow. A BOP doctor interpreted the results as indicating that: DiMasi's throat had narrowed; he had great difficulty swallowing; and his condition was serious, deteriorating, and unlikely to improve. The Medical Director of the BOP subsequently concluded that "it is medically indicated that someone be present to assist [DiMasi] with choking prevention while eating or drinking." Id. at *3. The BOP could have assigned an inmate companion to monitor DiMasi while he was eating or drinking. It chose instead to file the Motion for his early release.

         For the reasons fully explained in the November 17, 2016 Order, the court allowed the Motion. It explained, in part, that:

Although now cancer free, DiMasi is suffering from a serious medical condition. The treatment for his cancer has narrowed his throat, requiring a special diet. He is, however, still at risk of choking whenever he eats. As previously noted, the Medical Director of the Bureau of Prisons found that "it is medically indicated" that DiMasi be monitored while eating.. This opinion is central to the court's conclusion that DiMasi's release is justified. The Bureau of Prisons could provide an inmate companion to monitor DiMasi when he eats. However, the court finds that it would be more effective for his family, and professionals it may hire, to perform this function.

Id. at *4.

         The court also found, however, that the reduction of DiMasi's sentence was justified only if certain new conditions of Supervised Release were imposed. More specifically, the court modified the conditions of DiMasi's Supervised Release "to include at least six months home confinement, in the custody of his wife Deborah DiMasi, who [was] ordered to assure that a family member or professional health aide is with DiMasi whenever he eats or drinks to minimize the risk of choking or other harm to DiMasi." Id. at *24.

         In explaining the reasons for the, six-month period of home confinement, the court wrote:

Ordinarily, DiMasi would, like other eligible inmates, be subject to such a six-month transition toward the end of his sentence. The court finds that the usually required placement in a Residential Re-entry Center is not appropriate. However, in view of his medical needs, it is particularly important that DiMasi serve a six-month period of home confinement to facilitate his transition to the community, and to develop a record concerning his current needs and capacity to function in the community, which will inform the court's decision concerning what conditions of Supervised Release are appropriate after the usual transitional period.

Id. at *25. The court also stated that:

After the first three months of his home confinement, DiMasi may move for a modification of this condition of his Supervised Release if there is medical evidence to support such a request. The court may consider replacing the remaining period of 24-hour home confinement with a curfew. The court may also consider ...

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