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Gracia v. Maine Department of Corrections

Superior Court of Maine, Kennebec

September 30, 2018

FELIX GRACIA, Petitioner
v.
MAINE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

          Plaintiffs Attorney Felix Gracia, Pro Se

          Defendant's Attorney Jim Fortin, AAG

          DECISION AND ORDER AFTER REMAND

          William R. Stokes Justice

          INTRODUCTION

         The matter before the Court is an appeal by Felix Gratia, an inmate at the Maine State Prison, from a disciplinary proceeding that resulted in the imposition of sanctions against him for the offense of "trafficking," a Class A violation. This appeal has been brought in accordance with 5 M.R.S. §§ 11001-11008 (Administrative Procedure Act) and M.R. Civ. P. 80C.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         As set out in the Disciplinary Hearing Reports dated March 21, 2017 and authored by Lt. Lidia Burnham, the facts are as follows:[1]

          On January 12, fellow inmate Felix Gracia (Petitioner) gave his sister, Carmen, a phone number for "Ramon's nephew" and told her to give him $600 and that "they are 50."

         Between January 12 and January 16, fellow inmate Jose Quinones (whose full name is Jose Ramon Natal Quinones) called his nephew to tell him that a woman from Connecticut, who Lt. Burnham parenthetically states is Carmen, was going to give him $600 and that her brother, parenthetically noted as Petitioner, was going to buy "50 chickens for $600". Lt. Burnham parenthetically interprets "50 chickens for $600" to mean 50 strips of Suboxone for $600.

         Four days later, on January 16, Petitioner spoke with Carmen and told her to call the "guy" and tell him to remove the tinfoil. According to Lt. Burnham's report, Suboxone comes in individual packages with tinfoil on the inside.

         On January 18, Quinones called Carmen who said his nephew had not called. He gave her his nephew's phone number and told her to text him. On Friday January 20, Quinones called his nephew who said that the package would arrive Tuesday or Wednesday.

         The package was delivered to Carmen on January 26, and on the same day Petitioner called Jose Santiago and discussed arrangements to pick "it" up. Petitioner also asked Carmen to open the package and count "them." She said she only received 45 and Petitioner was upset because he paid $600 for 50. She told Petitioner on February 2 that when the "guy," parenthetically noted as Santiago, showed up at her house she gave him 50.

         No Suboxone had arrived at the prison by the time Lt. Burnham's report was submitted on March 21.

         On March 30 the first disciplinary hearing was held and Petitioner was found guilty. (C.R. 9.) The guilty finding was affirmed by the Chief Administrative Officer or designee. (C.R. 15.) Upon Petitioner's appeal to the Superior Court pursuant to 5 M.R.S. §§ 11001-11008 and M.R. Civ. P. 80C, this Court granted Judicial Review in its December 18, 2017 Decision and Order after finding a number of procedural violations in the first hearing. Gracia v. Me. Dep't of Corr., No. AP-17-20, 2017 Me. Super. LEXIS 290 (Dec. 20, 2017). Disciplinary Matter No. MSP-2017-0478 was reversed and ...


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