United States District Court, D. Kansas
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
F. MELGREN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Defendant Verlarina Ruth
Collins' Motion for Compassionate Release Pursuant to 18
U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A) (Doc. 24 in No. 15-10188 and Doc.
19 in No. 17-10061). She seeks early release from prison due to
the deterioration of her husband's health and the care of
their minor grandchild. For the reasons stated in more detail
below, the Court denies Defendant's motion.
Factual and Procedural Background
December 8, 2015, in No. 15-10188, Defendant was charged by
Indictment with one count of theft of government property,
three counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of
making a false statement to the government, and nine counts
of wire fraud. On December 12, 2016, Defendant and the
government entered into a plea agreement. Defendant agreed to
plead guilty to Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment-theft of
government property in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641 and
aggravated identity theft in violation of 18 U.S.C. §
February 27, 2017, the Court sentenced Defendant to 45 months
of imprisonment and three years supervised release. On April
4, 2017, Defendant requested a three-day stay of execution of
her surrender date. The Court granted this motion and ordered
Defendant to surrender on April 7, 2017. Defendant failed to
surrender on that date, and a bench warrant was issued for
her arrest on April 10. She was arrested on April 13, 2017.
April 25, 2017, in No. 17-10061, Defendant was charged with
one count of failure to surrender for service of sentence in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 3146(a)(2). On June 16, 2017,
the parties entered into a plea agreement in which Defendant
plead guilty to Count 1 of the Indictment. On September 7,
2017, the Court sentenced Defendant to eight months of
imprisonment to run consecutive to Defendant's previous
45-month prison sentence.
February 20, 2019, Defendant submitted an “Application
for Compassionate Release” to the Warden. In this
application, she stated that the extraordinary or compelling
circumstances that warranted consideration for early release
were: (1) an incapacitated spouse and (2) incapacitation of
minor child's caregiver. Specifically, Defendant stated
that her husband, Mr. Collins, had progressively lost the
ability to walk due to a debilitating disease. She stated
that he was now dependent on a wheelchair, had a daily nurse
help him with bathing and cooking, and the state drove him to
his doctor appointments and pain management therapy.
Defendant also asserted that Mr. Collins was the sole
caregiver of their 13-year old grandson, whom they had taken
care of since he was an infant due to the inability of the
child's parents to provide and care for him adequately.
April 3, 2019, the administrative remedy coordinator at
Carswell Federal Medical Center received Defendant's
request. On April 9, 2019, the Warden denied her request. In
this letter, the Warden informed Defendant that she did not
meet the criteria for Compassionate Release/Reduction in
Sentence because the medical documentation “does not
demonstrate that your spouse suffered a serious injury, or
debilitating physical illness and the result of the injury or
illness is that the spouse or registered partner is
completely disabled.” The letter also informed
Defendant that she could appeal the denial through the
Administrative Remedy Program.
filed a Reconsideration for Compassionate Release Denial on
April 28, 2019. In this letter, she referenced the
“First Step Act.” She also asked for a chance to
obtain her husband's “diagnosed care level”
before a decision was made.
13, 2019, the Acting Warden denied Defendant's
reconsideration. Specifically, the letter informed Defendant
that “after reviewing the provided medical
documentation, it did not demonstrate that Mr. Collins
“is completely disabled, cannot carry on any self-care,
and is totally confined to a bed or chair.” The Acting
Warden informed Defendant that she did “not meet the
criteria for Reduction In Sentence/Compassionate Release
based on non-medical circumstance - Incapacitation of a
Spouse or Registered Partner.” Thus, Defendant's
request for administrative remedy was denied. The Acting
Warden informed Defendant that she could appeal within 20
days if she was not satisfied with the response.
filed an Appeal on May 24, 2019, stating that her husband
received Medicaid assistance. She also stated that she
requested help in obtaining his diagnosed care level via
Medicaid. On June 17, 2019, the Regional Director noted that
the medical documentation did not demonstrate Mr.
Collins' incomplete incapacitation. Thus, Defendant's
Appeal was denied because she did not meet the Reduction in
Sentence requirements. Again, the Regional Director stated
that Defendant could appeal the decision to the
Administrative Remedy Program.
10, 2019, Defendant appealed and stated that her
husband's condition was worsening and that he was in an
electric wheelchair. On September 19, 2019, the Administrator
of National Inmate Appeals acknowledged Defendant's
Appeal. This letter noted Defendant's statement that Mr.
Collins' medical condition was worsening and that he
required assistance with his daily living needs. The
Administrator, however, determined that Defendant did not
meet the criteria for a reduction in sentence. Specifically,
the letter pointed out the requirement to be met:
“debilitating physical illness and the result of the
injury or illness is that the spouse or registered partner is
completely disabled, meaning that the spouse or registered
partner cannot carry on any self-care and is totally confined
to a bed or chair.” Furthermore, the Administrator
noted that Defendant's “husband's medical
condition does not demonstrate that he is unable to care for
himself or that he is totally confined to a bed or chair.
Moreover, you have not demonstrated how you are the only
available caregiver for your husband, as you state he is
receiving Medicaid assistance to aid in his daily
activities.” Thus, Defendant's Appeal was denied.
then sent a letter to this Court requesting a compassionate
release. A copy of Defendant's letter, along with the
accompanying exhibits, was filed by the Clerk's Office on
November 6, 2019, in Nos. 15-10188 and 17-10061, and
designated as a Motion for Compassionate Release. Defendant
requests a compassionate release based on the same reasons
asserted above: (1) Mr. Collins' deteriorating health and
(2) Mr. Collins' incapacitation affecting the care of
their minor grandson.
First Step Act, enacted on December 21, 2018,  amended the
compassionate release statute, 18 U.S.C. §
3582(c)(1)(A), to provide:
Modification of an imposed term of
imprisonment. -The court may not modify a term of
imprisonment once it has been ...