Tuna Gate The Cover-Up Inmate Sues for Past Due Release

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Robert Platshorn, aka "Bobby Tuna," sues U.S. Parole Commission for past due release. U.S Parole Commission and Bureau of Prisons continually pass the buck despite clear legal precedent. They've gone so far as to falsify a parole certificate, silence their own veteran employees and ignore Supreme Court precedents. Supporting Documents included.

Reference: “Tuna in Can 25 Years,” PRWeb August 2, 2004. Federal prisoner 00603-004, America’s longest serving marijuana offender, has been doing time for over 25 years. Beginning in the old Super-Max at Marion, IL, to the work camp at Eglin, FL, with a host of prisons in-between, it is probably a record for a non-violent first offender. Dubbed by the DEA, “The Black Tuna,” Robert Platshorn has been in prison since 1979. He is serving a pot smuggling sentence of 64 years (31 years parolable and 33 years non-parolable = 64 years). Granted parole in 1989, he should have been released on June 11, 1997, but he wasn’t. Therein lays a sad tale of cover-up, lies to congress and false documents.

What probably began as an error by the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) in computing Platshorn’s parole eligibility date, the result was a blatantly illegal act by the U.S. Parole Commission. Under the old parole laws, a prisoner served all the time required by his combined (aggregated) sentences, and then was paroled to the community. Somehow, by accident or design, they paroled Bobby Tuna from one federal sentence to the other, illegally adding over ten years to his incarceration. While the law doesn’t permit it, Platshorn is both in prison and on parole. The Parole Commission has stonewalled Platshorn and refused to amend his parole for over ten years. He is now suing the Parole Commission in the Washington D.C. district court. He is proceeding without an attorney, but the prospect of significant monetary damages should attract competent counsel to the suit.

The Cover-Up

The cover-up began in 1991 at the Federal Prison at Butner, NC, unable to compute a release date for Bobby. The records department discovered they had provided an incorrect computation and recommendation to the parole board. Taking the easy way out, they shipped Platshorn and the problem to another prison.

Bogus Parole Certificate and Doctored Records

Now in Virginia, Platshorn’s Case Manager, William “Bill” Palmer, a 25 year veteran at FCI-Petersburg, recognized that a serious mistake had been made and contacted the Parole Commission (see BOP letter 1&2) in an effort to determine a correct release date. Paul Ketchpaw, the Parole Board’s trouble shooter, wrote to Palmer and to Senator Bill Bradley who had questioned the board’s action, claiming that Palmer and Bradley didn’t understand the complex rules of parole. Then, knowing that the Board is not permitted to parole from one federal sentence to another, Ketchpaw created a Certificate of Parole (see attachments Parole Memo, certificate and guidelines) showing that Platshorn, who has never left Prison since 1979, was released on Parole in 1989. To support the cover-up, the BOP created a new sentence computation showing Platshorn beginning his present term in 1989 instead on 1979. Then, in classic BOP tradition, they shipped “the Tuna” to yet another prison.

On the Road Again – and Again – and Again

The Tuna landed in prison in Elkton, OH, but not for long. Seeing the bogus documents and the unusual sentence computation, they tossed Platshorn into the “cooler” to await transportation to “anyplace else but here”.

His next stop was Milan, Michigan. Longtime records maven Cindy Stohl spotted the problem within a week of Bobby’s arrival. She was nearing retirement and, with nothing to lose, she confronted her regional supervisor John White. White was on record in Virginia as stating that the BOP’s de-aggregation of Platshorn’s sentence was probably illegal. Still, he told the well-meaning Ms. Stohl not to get involved.

Next stop and hopefully his last, Robert Platshorn 00603-004, landed at the Federal Work Camp at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. Here Larry Douglas, Eglin’s record keeper, called Bobby to his office. “Were you released on parole in 1989?” he asked. “No,” said Platshorn. “Your records are seriously screwed up,” Douglas announced, “and you may be going home very soon.” He explained that Platshorn’s sentences should have remained aggregated as 64 years and his parole computed by the rules of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Chatman-Bey, a case that determined how the BOP must compute parolable and non-parolable sentences. It wasn’t! Douglas’ boss, Regional Director John Gaither, told him in no uncertain terms “Do nothing. He can take us to court.”

Background Information

The federal Bureau of Prisons is notoriously inept at computing its inmates’ release dates. Law books are replete with cases of miscalculated release dates. In the parole era, an audit by the GAO determined that over 15% of BOP sentence computations were in error, virtually none in favor of the inmate. Hundreds of inmates spent months and even years in prison beyond their sentences. A particular problem for the BOP was computing sentences with a parolable and non-parolable term. In 1986 Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, sitting on the D.C. Appeals court in Chatman-Bey vs. Meese, 797 F. 2d 987 (see attached documents) ordered the BOP and the Parole Commission to use a system she called “total aggregation” to compute all federal sentences with a parolable and non-parolable term. In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court in the United States v. Gonzales, 520 U.S. 1, Justice O’Connor confirmed the holding in Chatman-Bey, affirming that once consecutive sentences were aggregated they became a single unit with no regard to the order of sentencing. Still the BOP and Parole Commission continue to stonewall and cover-up. No “total aggregation” for “Bobby Tuna,” no matter what the Supreme Court says. So it's off to court and looking for a good lawyer for Federal Prisoner number 00603-004.

This investigative report was prepared by a 29-year-old Special Education teacher who hasn’t gone fishing with his dad since he was four years old.

Contacts and Confirmation

Peter Buscemi, Morgan, Lewis, & Bokius, Washington D.C. (202) 739-5190

Attorney Arthur Tifford, Miami, FL (305) 545-7823

Raymond Stickler, Eglin Staff Counselor, (850) 882-8522 Fax (850) 729-8621

For Further Information contact Matthew Platshorn (Son) (775) 741 8066 or mplatshorn@msn.com

E-Mail & Questions directed to:

U.S Parole Commission

Edward F. Reilly, Chairman

5550 Friendship Blvd

Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Telephone 301-492-3198

Federal Bureau of Prisons

Harley Lappin, Director

Washington, D.C. 20530

Telephone 202-307-3198

For Interview:

Eglin Federal Prison Camp

Donald Bauknecht, Warden

Robert Platshorn

Reg. No. 00603-004

Telephone 850-882-8522

Fax 850-729-8190

Attorneys interested in representing Robert for monetary damages and pending litigation-complaint for declaratory judgment:

Robert Platshorn

Prisoner # 00603-004

Eglin Federal Prison Camp

P.O. Box 600

Eglin AFB, FL 32542-7606

U.S. District Court

District of Columbia Circuit

Judge Richard W. Roberts

Case No. 04-CV-1237-RWR

U.S. Court of Appeals

Eleventh Circuit

No. 04-11466-E

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