United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM E. SMITH, CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is the United States of America, Attorney General
of the United States, United States Attorney for the District
of Rhode Island, and the Treasurer of the United States'
(collectively “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss
(“Motion”), ECF No. 10, pursuant to Rules
12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS the
1991, Steven A. Saccoccia (“Plaintiff”) was
convicted of conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C.
§ 1962(d). See generally United States v.
Saccoccia, 823 F.Supp. 994, 997 (D.R.I. 1993). The Court
sentenced him to 660 years' imprisonment and, pursuant to
18 U.S.C. §§ 1963(a)(3), (m), ordered him to
forfeit $136, 344, 231.86 to the United States government.
Mot. 2. Plaintiff remains incarcerated. Compl. ¶¶
1, 7, ECF No. 1.
2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking writs of error
coram nobis and audita querela, along with other relief,
alleging that for the past two decades the United States
government has seized “millions of dollars of assets
from the Saccoccias and their family members.” Compl.
¶ 10. Following Plaintiff's conviction, this Court
issued a substitution forfeiture order pursuant to 18 U.S.C.
§ 1963(m) that resulted in the United States seizing
many of Plaintiff's assets including his home, broker
accounts, and personal jewelry and other effects from a
safety deposit box. Compl. ¶ 10. Plaintiff urges the
Court to declare the continued seizure of his assets contrary
to the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Honeycutt v.
United States, 137 S.Ct. 1626 (2017). Compl.
¶¶ 11-16. Plaintiff further requests the Court
invalidate the forfeitures resulting from his 1991 RICO
conviction and order the return of his assets and seized
property. Id. In response, Defendants have moved to
dismiss the Complaint, arguing that the Court does not have
jurisdiction to hear this matter and, even assuming it may
exercise jurisdiction, Plaintiff has failed to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. Mot. 1; see also
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), (6).
Jurisdiction under the All Writs Act
common law writ is only available under the All Writs Act, 28
U.S.C. § 1651, where necessary to “fill whatever
interstices exist in the post-conviction remedial scheme made
available to federal prisoners by way of [28 U.S.C. §]
2255.” Trenkler v. United States, 536 F.3d 85,
97 (1st Cir. 2008) (citing United States v. Ayala,
894 F.2d 425, 428 (D.C. Cir. 1990)). In other words, if a
claim may be properly brought under § 2255, it cannot
stand as a petition for a common law writ under the All Writs
Defendants cast Plaintiff's Complaint as a thinly-veiled
motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, filed as an
end-run around the First Circuit's prior ruling denying
Plaintiff leave to file a second or successive motion to
vacate based on Honeycutt. See Judgment,
Saccoccia v. United States, No. 18-1172, slip op. at
1 (1st Cir. Mar. 29, 2018); see also Mot. 1-2.
Plaintiff counters that his request for relief does not fall
within the purview of a motion to vacate because he
challenges the non-custodial portion of his sentence.
See Compl. ¶ 4.
First Circuit has held that a defendant may not challenge the
restitution portion of his sentence under § 2255 because
he “is not claiming the right to be released from
custody as required by § 2255.” Bartelho v.
United States, No. 15-1988, 2016 WL 9584199, at *1 (1st
Cir. Dec. 8, 2016) (citing Smullen v. United States,
94 F.3d 20, 25-26 (1st Cir. 1996)). For this same reason, the
Court concludes the First Circuit would hold that a defendant
may not file a motion under § 2255 to mount a collateral
attack against a forfeiture order. See, e.g.,
United States v. Fabian, 798 F.Supp.2d 647, 684-85
(D. Md. 2011) (“Following the lead of the courts cited
above, the court concludes that a noncustodial component of a
sentence, such as a restitution or forfeiture order, cannot
be attacked in a § 2255 petition.”). Accordingly,
the Court will not recast this Complaint as a motion under
§ 2255 and declines to dismiss the suit for failure to
seek leave from the First Circuit to file a second or
successive motion under § 2255.
of Error Coram Nobis
without recharacterizing the Complaint as a motion under
§ 2255, Plaintiff's claim for coram nobis relief,
Compl. ¶¶ 22-33, fails on its own merits.
may grant relief under the writ of error coram nobis only
where a plaintiff “explain[s] his failure to seek
earlier relief from the judgment, show[s] that he continues
to suffer significant collateral consequences from the
judgment, and demonstrate[s] that the judgment resulted from
an error of the most fundamental character.” United
States v. George, 676 F.3d 249, 254 (1st Cir. 2012)
(citing United States v. Barrett, 178 F.3d 34, 56
n.20 (1st Cir. 1999)). Moreover, “it is not enough for
a coram nobis petitioner to show that he can satisfy the
elements of the tripartite test: he must also show that
justice demands the extraordinary balm of coram nobis
relief.” Id. (citing Hager v. United
States, 993 F.2d 4, 5 (1st Cir. 1993)).
Plaintiff has not shown that his criminal forfeiture judgment
resulted from an “error of the most fundamental
character.” Id. at 254. Even if the
Court's ruling in Honeycutt were to apply
retroactively, a proposition this Court takes no position on,
courts have held that alleged errors in restitution orders,
criminal fines, and forfeiture orders are not
“fundamental to the underlying convictions.”
United States v. Iacaboni, 592 F.Supp.2d 216, 221
(D. Mass. 2009) (citing United States v. Sloan, 505
F.3d 685, 697 (7th Cir. 2007); United States v.
Keane, 852 F.2d 199, 204 (7th Cir. 1988); Lowery v.
United States, 956 F.2d 227, 229 (11th Cir. 1992)).
Therefore, because Plaintiff has failed to ...