Santana v. United States of America
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. Santana's motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is DENIED. The Clerk is directed to close the case captioned Santana v. United States, 16 Civ. 5750 (PKC). Santana has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right and, accordingly, a certificate of appealability will not issue. 28 U.S.C. § 2253; see Blackman v. Ercole, 661 F.3d 161, 163-64 (2d Cir. 2011). His motion was not filed in forma paup eris, and the Court therefore makes no finding pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3). SO ORDERED. re: 1 Motion to Vacate/Set Aside/Correct Sentence (2255) filed by Edwin Santana (Signed by Judge P. Kevin Castel on 6/6/2017) Copies Mailed By Chambers. (rjm)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Movant Edwin Santana, who represents himself pro se, moves to vacate, set aside,
or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. After pleading guilty to conspiracy to
distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act
robbery, and possession of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense, he was
sentenced on June 24, 2015 principally to 45 months’ imprisonment. Santana now claims that
the district court did not have jurisdiction to impose a $300 assessment at sentencing and
demands a discharge of that debt, immediate release from federal custody, and $20 million in
damages. According to the Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) website, Mr. Santana was released from
BOP custody on September 29, 2016. Section 2255 of title 28 does not provide for the award of
money damages. For reasons to be explained, his motion is otherwise denied.
Santana filed his motion on July 18, 2016, challenging the legality of his sentence
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. (Dkt. 1). In an order dated July 29, 2016, the Honorable Kevin
Mailed to Mr. Santana 6/7/2017
Thomas Duffy granted Santana leave to file an amended section 2255 motion that included all of
his grounds for relief, within sixty days. (Dkt. 3). This case was reassigned to the undersigned
on September 30, 2016. On the same date, Santana claims that he placed an amended section
2255 motion in the court’s night deposit box. (Dkt. 5). However, no office of this Court has a
record of an amended motion having been filed or received. Therefore, the Court directed
Santana to submit an amended section 2255 motion by May 12, 2017 or his motion would be
denied. (Dkt. 6). More than three weeks have passed and Santana has not filed an amended
motion. For this reason alone, the Court dismisses Santana’s motion. Reaching the merits, the
motion is also meritless.
In his section 2255 motion and other documents filed in this case, Santana appears
to rely on arguments common to the “sovereign citizen” or “redemptionist” movements which
have been consistently rejected by federal courts. The Second Circuit has described “sovereign
citizens” as “a loosely affiliated group who believe that the state and federal governments lack
constitutional legitimacy and therefore have no authority to regulate their behavior.” United
States v. Ulloa, 511 F. App’x 105, 107 n.1 (2d Cir. 2013) (summary order). In Monroe v. Beard,
the Third Circuit explained:
“Redemptionist” theory . . . propounds that a person has a split
personality: a real person and a fictional person called the
“strawman.” The “strawman” purportedly came into being when
the United States went off the gold standard in 193, and, instead,
pledged the strawman of its citizens as collateral for the country’s
national debt. Redemptionists claim that government has power
only over the strawman and not over the live person, who remains
free. Individuals can free themselves by filing UCC financing
statements, thereby acquiring an interest in their strawman.
Thereafter, the real person can demand that government officials
pay enormous sums of money to use the strawman’s name or, in the
case of prisoners, to keep him in custody.
Monroe v. Beard, 536 F.3d 198, 203 n.4 (3d Cir. 2008) (per curiam). Those
subscribing to the sovereign citizen or redemptionsist theories further believe that when “[a]
person’s name is spelled . . . with initial capital letters and small letters, [it] represents the ‘real
person’ . . . . Whenever a person’s name is written in total capitals, however, . . . only the
‘strawman’ is referenced, and the flesh and blood person is not involved.” McLaughlin v.
CitiMortgage, Inc., 726 F. Supp. 2d 201, 210 (D. Conn. 2010) (citations omitted).
Santana seeks to avoid the $300 assessment imposed at his sentencing by
claiming that because he filed a Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”) financing statement to
“initiate redemption” and “perfect a security interest” in “EDWIN SANTANA,” his property is
“exempt from levy.” (Dkt. 1). According to Santana, he holds a priority lien on the property of
“EDWIN SANTANA” and therefore the district court did not have jurisdiction to impose an
assessment at sentencing. (Id.)
The theories on which Santana bases these arguments have been uniformly
rejected by the courts as legally invalid and frivolous. See, e.g., Muhammad v. Smith, No. 13
Civ. 760 (MAD) (DEP), 2014 WL 3670609, at *2 (N.D.N.Y. July 23, 2014) (describing the
“redemptionist” theory and the related “sovereign citizen” theory as frivolous legal theories that
have been consistently rejected by federal courts “as frivolous and a waste of court resources”);
Paul v. New York, No. 13 Civ. 5047 (SJF) (AKT), 2013 WL 5973138, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 5,
2013) (holding that “sovereign citizens” are “subject to the laws of the jurisdiction in which they
reside”) (citation omitted); Charlotte v. Hanson, 433 F. App’x. 660, 661 (10th Cir. 2011)
(rejecting the sovereign citizen theory as having no conceivable validity in American law)
(citation omitted). Santana’s motion is therefore denied.
Santana’s motion to vacate, set aside or correct his sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2255 is DENIED. The Clerk is directed to close the case captioned Santana v. United States,
16 Civ. 5750 (PKC).
Santana has not made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right
and, accordingly, a certificate of appealability will not issue. 28 U.S.C. § 2253; see Blackman v.
Ercole, 661 F.3d 161, 163-64 (2d Cir. 2011). His motion was not filed in forma pauperis, and
the Court therefore makes no finding pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3).
Dated: New York, New York
June 6, 2017
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