Crundwell wants to withdraw compassionate release motion; is pursuing BOP 'administrative appeal procedures'

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(KWQC) - Former Dixon comptroller Rita Crundwell is asking a judge to withdraw her motion for a compassionate release – at least for now.

“Counsel has communicated with Ms. Crundwell and, in light of actions taken by the warden of the Pekin Correctional Facility, Ms. Crundwell intends to pursue administrative appeal procedures available to her through the Bureau of Prisons,” her federal attorney, Paul Gaziano wrote in a motion filed Monday in U.S. District Court, Rockford.

She is asking for her motion to be dismissed without prejudice which, if granted, would allow her to refile it in the future.

Judge Philip G. Reinhard granted her motion on May 21, court records show.

Gaziano declined to comment Wednesday. BOP also declined to comment specifically on Crundwell’s motion.

“The Bureau of Prisons does not comment on pending litigation or matters that are the subject of legal proceedings, and we do not speak about conditions of confinement for a specific inmate,” BOP spokesman Emery Nelson said in an email. “However, I can tell you all inmates have access to the Administrative Remedy Program where they are provided a formal process to express their concerns and officially request relief. “

Nelson said BOP has no direct authority to grant a reduction in an inmate’s sentence as a compassionate release measure. Rather, he said if the BOP’s director determines an inmate is eligible and appropriate for a reduction in sentence, the BOP can ask the prosecuting attorney to file a motion seeking such a reduction on the director's behalf.

“Inmates who are found to be ineligible under agency criteria, or who are determined to be inappropriate for agency approval of a reduction in sentence, may also file a motion in their sentencing court themselves under the new authority for such under the First Step Act,” Nelson said. “At all times, the decision on whether to grant such a motion - whether brought on behalf of the director of the BOP or the inmate themselves - lies with the sentencing court.”

Crundwell was sentenced in February 2013 to nearly 20 years in federal prison for stealing nearly $54 million from the city over 20 years.
She was ordered to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

Crundwell is serving her sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Pekin, IL. Her release date, according to the Bureau of Prisons, is Oct. 20, 2029.

On April 22, Crundwell filed a letter addressed to Judge Philip G. Reinhard seeking to be released because of concerns of the coronavirus.

Crundwell wrote, in part, "I am now 67 years old with several health issues including chronic hypertension, high cholesterol, chronic pain from severe scoliosis and a pinched sciatic nerve in lower back causing constant pain and numbness to my toes."

She is seeking to be released on home confinement and said in her letter that she can stay with her brother at his farm outside Dixon city limits.

According to an amended federal statute, a defendant may file a motion with the court for a compassionate release after a “defendant has fully exhausted all administrative rights to appeal a failure of the Bureau of Prisons to bring a motion on the defendant’s behalf or the lapse of 30 days from the receipt of such a request by the warden of the defendant’s facility.”

Crundwell noted in her letter that she had filed a request for compassionate release with the prison warden.

Dixon officialsare opposed to Crundwell's request and have written a letter to the warden of the Pekin prison where Crundwell is being housed.

Nelson said given the surge in positive cases at select sites and in response to Attorney General William Barr’s directives, the BOP is reviewing all inmates who have coronavirus risk factors to determine which inmates are suitable for home confinement.

“The BOP was originally focused on a priority list of inmates in accordance with the Attorney General's guidance to BOP issued March 26, 2020,” he said. “However, the Attorney General's memo issued on April 3, 2020, asked the BOP to immediately maximize appropriate transfers to home confinement of all appropriate inmates held at Oakdale, Danbury, Elkton, and other similarly situated facilities. That process is ongoing.”

Inmates do not need to apply to be considered for home confinement, Nelson said. Case management staff is “urgently reviewing” all inmates to determine which ones meet the criteria established by the attorney general. The Department of Justice has also increased resources to review and make appropriate determinations as soon as possible, he added.