Manoharan v. United States of America
ORDER denying 1 Motion to Expunge (See attached). Ordered by Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr on 7/12/2012. (Figeroux, Davina)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
12 MC 68 (SJ)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PAUL D. PETRUS, P.C.
350 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10118
Paul D. Petrus
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
Loretta E. Lynch
271 Cadman Plaza East
Brooklyn, NY 11201
JOHNSON, Senior District Judge:
On October 8, 1993, petitioner Samuel Manoharan (“Manoharan” or
“Petitioner”) appeared before this Court and pled guilty to mail fraud pursuant to
18 U.S.C. § 1341. Specifically, Manoharan was employed by the New York
School Construction Authority (“SCA”) as a contract specialist. A contractor,
Christ Gatzonis Electrical Contractor, Inc. (the “Contractor”), attempted to obtain a
contract with the SCA through a bid rigging scheme. In furtherance thereof, the
Contractor submitted multiple $500 payments to another individual employed by
CSA, who in fact was a confidential informant working for the government (the
“CI”). The CI offered one such payment to Petitioner, who initially accepted the
money but returned it the following day, when he demanded the bribe be $5,000.
Under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, the applicable term of
imprisonment for this offense was 0-6 months.
On December 17, 1993, the Court declined to impose a term of
imprisonment and sentenced Manoharan to three years probation (including six
months of home confinement), 500 hours of community service, and a $10,000
fine.1 He now moves to have the record of his conviction expunged, pursuant to 18
U.S.C. § 1341. In support of his argument, Petitioner cites the fact that the charged
offense has been his only contact with the criminal justice system, and constituted a
momentary lapse in judgment.
Petitioner is an engineer, and claims that the
process of renewing his professional license will cause his conviction to appear on
subsequent licensing websites.
He also submits that he has made numerous
contributions to charitable organizations and cites his difficulty obtaining life
insurance or entry into a retirement community. The government opposes.
The record does not indicate any incidence of Manoharan’s non-compliance with the
terms of probation.
“The power to expunge is a narrow one . . . and should be reserved for the
unusual or extreme case.” United States v. Schnitzer, 567 F.2d 536, 539 (2d Cir.
1977). The standard is stringent and balances the government’s need to maintain
records with the harm alleged by the moving party. Id.; Doe v. Immigration &
Customs Enforcement, 2004 WL 1469464, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. June 29, 2004) (“The
appropriateness [of expunction] is determined on a case-by-case basis,” as the
remedy requires the presence of “extraordinary circumstances.”).
This reluctance to alter accurate criminal justice records is particularly acute
when the movant has been convicted and is seeking to expunge the record of his
conviction. . . . The considerations that animate this strong policy include the
need for punishment (including some of the collateral consequences of a
criminal conviction), deterrence, and the needs of law enforcement and the
United States v. Melton, 2001 WL 345217, at *1 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 9, 2001) (citations
omitted). Accordingly, the decision to expunge a defendant’s criminal record is
one committed to the discretion of the District Court, and Petitioner’s burden is a
In this case, Manoharan has failed to demonstrate the type of extraordinary
circumstances that would warrant expunction. He claimed in his moving papers
that he is unable to renew his engineering license, but at oral argument admitted
that he had not attempted to do so, and therefore does not know if that is true. Cf.
United States v. Doe, 935 F. Supp. 478 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (granting motion to
expunge where movant showed an “actual impact on his employment” in the form
of a suspension); Doe v. United States, 964 F. Supp. 1429, 1434 (S.D.Cal. 1997)
(granting motion where petitioner’s employer suspended him pending the outcome
of the expunction proceedings). Manoharan further alleges that he “would have a
hard time purchasing a condominium in a retirement community,” which is also
While it is commendable that Manoharan has made regular
contributions to a variety of charitable organizations and, outside of the instant
conviction, has had no run-ins with the law during his 40-plus years in the United
States, he has failed to establish extraordinary circumstances of the type required.
See, e.g., Doe, 2004 WL 1469464, at *1 (expunging arrest record where a
background check revealed a non-existent arrest and non-existent deportation
proceedings, causing petitioner to be denied employment as a police officer).
Manoharan cites three cases in which a motion to expunge was granted and
each of those cases involve individuals who were convicted under the Youth
Corrections Act, 18 U.S.C. 5005 et seq. (“YCA”), and had their respective
sentences set aside. Those cases are wholly distinguishable from Manoharan’s
conviction in that the very purpose of setting aside a sentence pursuant to the YCA
is to afford a young person the opportunity to rehabilitate and start anew. See
United States v. Doe, 2004 WL 1124687, at *3 (“The clear purpose for setting
aside a youthful offender's conviction [is] to relieve him not only of the usual
disabilities of a criminal conviction, but also to give him a second chance free of a
record tainted by such a conviction.”); Doe, 935 F. Supp. at 481 (granting motion
to expunge and finding “most important” that petitioner was sentenced under the
YCA and had his conviction set aside); Doe, 964 F. Supp. at 1434-5 (granting
motion to expunge where petitioner “may lose a good job and be at risk for future
prolonged unemployment based on a single criminal conviction which occurred
twenty-seven years ago when [he] was a minor, and which has already been
Indeed, the only case cited by Manoharan that involves a conviction by
guilty plea of an adult offender resulted in a denial of the motion to expunge. See
McFadzean, 1999 WL 993641 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 1999); cf. United States v. Bryde,
914 F. Supp. 38, 40 (N.D.N.Y. 1996) (denying motion to expunge and noting the
“distinction between circumstances in which expunction is sought by a wholly
innocent individual, mistakenly arrested and indicted, and a situation where relief is
sought by a defendant who has been convicted and admits her guilt”). It is also
noteworthy that courts typically deny motions to expunge even the arrest records of
those not convicted of any crime – in other words, individuals far less culpable than
Manoharan, or not culpable at all. See Schnitzer, 567 F.2d at 540 (affirming denial
of motion to expunge an arrest for charges later dismissed because the “arrest and
indictment were both legal, as was the law under which [petitioner] was charged”
and because “there [was] no evidence that harsh damage would indeed accrue”);
Moss v. United States, 2011 WL 1706548, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. May 4, 2011)
(“[C]ourts generally reserve the power of expungement [sic] for the extreme
circumstances when an arrest or conviction is invalidated by government error or
misconduct and the defendant's innocence is presumed.”) (citations omitted);
Gardner v. United States, 2010 WL 2292222, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 6, 2010)
(denying motion to expunge where petitioner “states only that he is seeking a
security license, and apparently invites speculation that the presence of a decadesold dismissed [criminal] complaint on his record will necessarily prejudice his
application for that license.”); but see Natwig v. Webster, 562 F. Supp. 225
(D.C.R.I. 1983) (granting motion to expunge where petitioner’s arrest resulted in a
“no true bill” before a grand jury and his arrest was disclosed to his employer).
Without more, Manoharan fails to demonstrate that the collateral
consequences of conviction from which he suffers are out of the ordinary, much
less that they are extreme. To grant his motion to expunge a conviction when a
mere arrest seldom qualifies for expunction would be to leave Petitioner in a better
position than if he had been acquitted or had the indictment been otherwise
dismissed. Therefore, the motion is denied. The Clerk of the Court is directed to
close the case.
DATED: July 12, 2012
Brooklyn, New York
Sterling Johnson, Jr, U.S.D.J.
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