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February 24, 2023: COMPASSIONATE RELEASE, COVID-19, and BOP BLOG


Fast Facts (Full BOP stats can be found here)


Confirmed active cases at 66 BOP facilities and 6 RRCs

Currently positive-testing inmates: 184 (down from 198) Currently positive-testing staff: 57 (up from 55) Recovered inmates currently in the BOP: 45,572 (down from 45,649) Recovered staff: 15,171 (up from 15,170)


Institutions with the largest number of currently positive-testing inmates:

Carswell FMC: 41 (down from 52)

Allenwood Low FCI: 16 (down from 25)

Jesup FCI: 10


Institutions with the largest number of currently positive-testing staff:

Devens FMC: 6 (unchanged)

Terminal Island FCI: 5 (unchanged)

Carswell FMC: 4 (unchanged)


System-wide testing results: Presently, BOP has 144,738 federal inmates in BOP-managed institutions and 12,795 in community-based facilities. Today's stats: Completed tests: 128,649 (up from 128,648) Positive tests: 55,298 (up from 55,297)


Total vaccine doses administered: 348,176 (up from 347,999)


Case Note: Court grants compassionate release to defendant, citing disparity created after codefendant's sentence was reduced following appeal....


In U,S. v. Norman Seabrook, 16 Cr. 467 Doc 459 (SDNY February 23, 2023) (Hellerstein, D.J.), the court granted defendant compassionate release citing the disparity that developed between Seabrook and, particularly, one of his codefendants as a result of the codefendant's successful appeal and resentencing, explaining: "Seabrook, the former President of the Conection Officers Benevolent Association ("COBA''), was found by a jury to have accepted a bribe in 2014 to cause COBA to invest $20 million of pension funds, substantially the entirety of the pension fund, in a hedge fund, Platinum Partners LP. The bribe promised him compensation, estimated to be $100,000 the year of the investment and equivalent sums to follow, based on income the fund expected to receive from the investment. Murray Huberfeld, a principal of Platinum Partners, promised to pay the bribe. Jona Rechnitz, a friend of politicians and of both Huberfeld and Seabrook, arranged the bribe. The bribe, however, was not paid in full. Claiming disappointing 2014 results, Huberfeld paid $60,000 through a cash advance facilitated by Rechnitz. Huberfeld then had Platinum Partners repay Rechnitz, disguised on Platinum's books as a repayment for the procurement of court-side tickets for the New York Knicks. COBA ultimately lost $19 million of its $20 million investment.


Seabrook and Huberfeld were tried together, but the jury could not agree on a

verdict. After re-assignment to me and before re-trial, the government extended a favorable plea deal to Huberfeld, allowing him to plead guilty, not to defrauding COBA of $19 million, but of defrauding his own company, Platinum Partners, of $60,000-the amount listed on Platinum's books as a payment for Knicks tickets. I accepted the plea after an extended allocation, during which Huberfeld admitted that the purpose of the fraud was to bribe Seabrook to gain a $20 million investment from COBA. ECF No. 203, Huberfeld Plea Tr., at 27:21􀀟28:7. I commented that COBA, not Platinum Partners, was the real intended victim, and advised Huberfeld, before accepting his plea, that his sentence might reflect the reality and consequence of his bribe. See id. at 9:15-10:22.


This left Seabrook as the only defendant in the second trial. Jona Rechnitz, the government's main witness, testified again pursuant to a cooperation agreement, and this time, without Huberfeld, the jury accepted his testimony. I sentenced Seabrook on February 8, 2019, to a Guidelines sentence of 5 8 months' imprisonment, three years supervised release, and restitution to COBA of $19 million, at a rate of I 0% of net income.2 See ECF Nos. 298, 302. I explained my sentence as reflecting an approximate equivalence between the bribe giver, Huberfeld, and the bribe taker, Seabrook, before Guidelines adjustment of five levels - three for Huberfeld's acceptance of responsibility by a timely plea, and two because of Seabrook's violation of his fiduciary duty to COBA. On February 12, 2019, I sentenced Huberfeld to 30 months to reflect that five-level differential, changing the Guidelines range, from 51-63 months to 30-37 months. See Huberfeld Sentencing Tr., ECF No. 300, at 42:15-43:23; 59:10-21.3


Huberfeld's successful appeal changed the calculus. The Second Circuit held that Huberfeld's plea determined who was the victim and the amount of the loss, not COBA and a $19 million loss, but Platinum Pattners and a $60,000 loss. See United States v. Seabrook, 968 F.3d 224 (2d Cir. 2020). In the re-sentencing ordered by the Comt of Appeals, Huberfeld was sentenced to 13 months custody and $60,000 restitution to Platinum Pmtners.4 See ECF Nos.

402, 420. As a result, there is now an unjust dispm·ity between Huberfeld and Seabrook's sentences, which, as explained below, justifies Seabrook's compassionate release...


Sentencing Disparity

The enactment of the First Step Act enables me to consider an umeasonable

disparity in sentences between co-conspirators as part of the extraordinary and compelling circumstances that justify lowering Seabrook's sentence. See e.g. United States v. Ramsay, 538 F.Supp. 3d 407,428 (S.D.N.Y. 2021) (citing, among other factors, sentencing disparities with codefendants as a basis for a sentence reduction). Seabrook argues that he received a sentence that is so disproportionate to the sentences his co-conspirators, patticularly Huberfeld, received, that the disparity between his and his co-conspirators' sentences is an extraordinary and compelling circumstance justifying his release. He is con-ect. The sentence Huberfeld originally received reflected an approximate equivalence between the conduct of the bribe giver, Huberfeld, and the bribe taker, Seabrook. Now that Huberfeld's sentence has been reduced to 13 months, it would be unjust for Seabrook to face 5 8 months in custody.

Having considered the record, a sentence of time served, recognizing the approximately 21 months Seabrook has served, would reduce the disparity between Seabrook and his co-conspirators and would be sufficient, but not greater than necessary to achieve the sentencing objectives set forth in 18 U.S.C. 3553(a), including the need to avoid "unwarranted sentencing disparities." 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(6). This adjusted sentence reflects the seriousness of Seabrook's crime and lack of timely acceptance of responsibility, while also remedying what would otherwise be an unjust sentencing disparity between Seabrook and his co-Defendants.


CONCLUSION

Seabrook's motion to reduce his sentence and be released from custody is granted. After release from custody, Seabrook will be subject to three years of supervised release, as set out in the original judgment in this case. ECF No. 298.


Execution of this order shall be stayed for 10 days to give the Government time to review this decision and to determine whether to seek an appeal. The Clerk shall terminate ECF No. 451 and mail a copy of this order to Defendant."


Death Watch (Note: The BOP press website announces BOP COVID-related deaths here.) Today, the BOP announced no new COVID-related deaths, leaving the total number of inmate COVID-related deaths at 312. Eleven of the inmates died while on home confinement. Staff deaths remain at 7.


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