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United States v. Villanueva

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

April 8, 2020, Decided; April 8, 2020, Filed

18 Cr. 472-3 (KPF)

Opinion

ORDER

KATHERINE POLK FAILLA, District Judge:

On February 4, 2020, Defendant Michael Villanueva was sentenced by this Court principally to concurrent terms of time served plus three months' imprisonment. Villanueva is serving the remainder of his sentence at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (the "MCC") in Manhattan; his scheduled release date is May 4, 2020. Villanueva has moved for immediate release and/or release to home confinement pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A)(i), citing the risks to his health occasioned by his continued incarceration at the MCC during the current COVID-19 pandemic. As set forth in the remainder of this Order, the Court grants his motion and orders that the remainder of his sentence be reduced to time served, and that he be released to begin [*2]  his period of supervised release.

BACKGROUND1

Michael Villanueva was initially indicted on narcotics charges in this District in July 2018. (Dkt. #3). At the time of his arrest, he was a detainee at the Westchester County Jail. (PSR p.2). In November 2018, Villanueva pleaded guilty before this Court to a three-count superseding information charging him with narcotics and firearms offenses. (Dkt. #70). In January 2019, he was released on bail, although he was remanded four months later. (PSR p.2).

Villanueva was sentenced by this Court on February 5, 2020, principally to concurrent terms of time served plus three months' imprisonment, followed by concurrent terms of three years' supervised release. (Dkt. #72). Presumably because of the short period of time remaining on his prison term, the Bureau of Prisons (the "BOP") allowed Villanueva to remain at the MCC for the remainder of his sentence.

On March 31, 2020, counsel for Villanueva filed a motion for compassionate release on his behalf. (Dkt. #81). In it, counsel requested that the Court (i) modify Villanueva's sentence to time served or (ii) immediately release him to home confinement for the remainder of his term of imprisonment to be [*3]  followed by the previously-imposed term of supervised release. Among other things, defense counsel observed that the COVID-19 virus "thrives in densely packed populations, and the MCC is ill-equipped to contain the pandemic and prevent COVID-19 from becoming a de facto health threat for Mr. Villanueva." (Id. at 1; see also id. at 6 ("The MCC has disclosed that as of March 25, 2020, nearly one-third of its current population is high-risk within the CDC's definition (205 inmates), creating a powerful likelihood that the coronavirus will spread throughout the facility, and particularly endanger the at-risk inmates, many of whom were already exposed to the virus by an inmate who tested positive and was housed on an open dorm unit with many of the at-risk inmates.")). In letter briefs dated April 2 and 6, 2020 (Dkt. #82, 84), the Government expressed its non-opposition to Villanueva's motion and echoed many of defense counsel's arguments:

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61908 *

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA -v.- MICHAEL VILLANUEVA, Defendant.

CORE TERMS

sentence, required to exhaust, exhaust, compassionate, time served, circumstances, reduction, Prisons, term of imprisonment, supervised release, remainder, inmates, reasons, courts, waive