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United States v. Castillo

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

July 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
THOMAS R. CASTILLO a/k/a Thomas Castillo El Bey a/k/a Tutankhamun Castillo El Bey

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          HON. CHRISTOPHER P. TUITE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before me on referral for a Report and Recommendation are pro se Defendant Thomas R. Castillo's (1) Demand for Dismissal & Summary Judgment Due to Acquiescence, Negligence (Motion for Dismissal & Summary Judgment); (2) Request for Entry of Default Judgment (Request for Default); (3) Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss (Motion to Dismiss); and (4) Response to United States Government [sic] Opposition of Demand to Dismiss the Indictment and Motion to Compel(Motion to Compel). See (Docs. 54, 63, 65, 68, 73). The government has responded to each of these motions, see (Docs. 66, 71, 72, 79), and the matters are now ripe for my review. For the reasons discussed below, I recommend that the Court deny the Defendant's motions as both procedurally infirm and substantively without merit.

         BACKGROUND

         On November 2, 2017, the Defendant was indicted on two counts of making and presenting, and causing to be made and presented, false claims to a department and agency of the United States, in violation 18 U.S.C. §§ 287, 2. (Doc. 1). In both counts, the Defendant is alleged to have claimed tax refunds exceeding $230, 000 despite knowing that such claims were false, fictitious, and fraudulent.[1] Id.

         The Defendant was arraigned on these charges on November 17, 2017, and pleaded not guilty to both counts. (Doc. 7). Because the Defendant was indigent, the Federal Public Defender's Office was appointed to represent him. (Doc. 6).

         On November 20, 2017, the Court entered a Pretrial Discovery Order establishing a number of deadlines governing the disposition of this case. (Doc. 8). Of relevance here, that Order directed the Defendant to file any motions challenging the sufficiency of the Indictment within fifteen days of his arraignment (i.e., by on or about December 4, 2017), unless otherwise ordered or permitted by the trial judge. Id. at 4.

         On January 8, 2018, the Defendant appeared before the Court for a bond revocation hearing and made an ore tenus motion to represent himself. (Docs. 21, 23). After conducting the appropriate inquiry pursuant to Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806, 835 (1975), the Court granted the Defendant's request and directed that the Federal Public Defender's Office remain in the case as stand-by counsel. (Docs. 22, 23, 25). During the course of the hearing, the Defendant made an ore tenus motion to dismiss the Indictment, which the Court denied. (Doc. 23).

         On February 23, 2018, the Defendant and government counsel appeared for a status conference before the Honorable Elizabeth A. Kovachevich. (Doc. 28). Because an issue arose at that hearing regarding the Court's filing requirements, the Defendant was instructed to appear before me to discuss the matter. Id.

         At a subsequent hearing conducted on March 3, 2018, the Defendant was reminded of the importance of adhering to the Court's deadlines and the consequences of his failure to do so. (Doc. 34)) (court "discusses with pro se defendant... the importance, need and consequences of not meeting the deadlines"). The Court thereafter issued an Order extending the Defendant's discovery and motions deadlines to April 15, 2018. (Doc. 33).

         On April 2, 2018, the Court received a document from the Defendant in which he stated, inter alia, that the Indictment and the judicial officers involved in this matter had "fraudulently claim[ed] authority from this Executor Office to administrate for" the Defendant. (Docs. 38-1, 39 at 1)). The Court liberally construed this document, in part, to challenge the sufficiency of the Indictment, directed the government to respond to that challenge, and, of relevance here, noted in the interim that "[a] district court has personal jurisdiction over any defendant brought before it on a federal indictment charging a violation of federal law." (Doc. 38 at 1-2) (citing United States v. Rendon, 354 F.3d 1320, 1326 (11th Cir. 2003)).

         On April 13, 2018, the Defendant filed a Notice of Special Appearance-Mandatory Judicial Notice-Motion to Dismiss-Notice of Subrogation, in which he sought, among other relief, dismissal of the Indictment and a certification of his right of "subrogation." (Doc. 40 at 1-2, 41). In support of these requests for relief, the Defendant included with his filing, among other items, a "Letter Rogatory for Relief," a "Notice of Fee Schedule and Remedy," and the "United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples." Id. at 3-39. The Defendant also included a motion for an extension of time to "fil[e] documents to aid his defense properly." Id. at 40.

         On April 19, 2018, the Court entered an Order denying both of the Defendant's construed motions to dismiss. (Doc. 43). In doing so, the Court noted that the Indictment properly tracked the language of the charging statute, alleged each of the essential elements of the charged offense, and provided the Defendant with sufficient notice for him to prepare his defense and invoke double jeopardy if necessary. Id. at 2. The Court also denied the Defendant's request for an extension of time, observing that the Defendant had already been warned regarding the significance of the Court's pretrial motions deadline and "the consequences for noncompliance." Id.

         On April 25, 2018, the Defendant filed a Constructive Notice of Conditional Acceptance (Notice of Conditional Acceptance), stating, inter alia, that he sought an "abatement of.. . [the] public proceedings processes [sic] . . . pending the outcome of the Counterclaim that is attached hereto." (Doc. 50 at 2). The Defendant included with his Notice of Conditional Acceptance an "Affidavit of Specific Negative Averment," in which he alleged, inter alia, that "[i]f tender of payment of an obligation to pay an instrument is made to a person entitled to enforce the instrument and tender is refused, there is a discharge, to the extent of the amount of the tender, ... making further prosecution moot." Id. at 3.

         On the same date, the Defendant filed a Notice of Tender for Setoff and Notice of Fiduciary Appointment and Notice of Settlement Offer. (Doc. 51). In that Notice, the Defendant identified himself as the "Holder" of a particular "Account" and "appointed" Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Megan Kistler and the judicial officers who have been involved in this matter as fiduciaries charged with, among other duties, "execut[ing] the setoff, settlement, and closing of ACCOUNT [sic]." Id. at 2. The Defendant also referenced "three private tender instruments" and requested that the "balance of the ACCOUNT be adjusted to Zero dollars ($0.00) to reflect the ledgering of said TENDERS." Id. at 4. The Defendant additionally referenced a "Statement of Account" and asserted that, "[u]pon the Respondent's acceptance of the Request Regarding a Statement of Account, the Respondent shall," among other things, "credit the remaining balance for the ACCOUNT with the TENDER;" "give proper public notice of the satisfaction of all obligations on the ACOUNT ... by executing or causing to be executed a Discharge for charges Title 18 U.S.C. § 287;" and "give notice to the CLAIMANT of the filing of the Discharge for charges Title 18 U.S.C. § 287." Id. at 5. Interspersed throughout the Defendant's Notice were references to, among other citations, various provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code, Rule E of the Supplemental Admiralty Rules, and "Private International Law." See, e.g., Id. at 2, 4-6.

         On May 2, 2018, the Defendant filed his Motion for Dismissal & Summary Judgment, in which he referenced the above Notices and complained that AUSA Kistler (whom the Defendant denominated as the "Representative") had not yet "compl[ied] with the demand of fulfilling her fiduciary responsibility via Subrogation." (Doc. 54 at 1-2). The Defendant similarly alleged that "[a]ll judges have yet to comply with the[ir] appointed responsibility," that "[a]ll fiduciaries have neglected to give a Statement of Account as requested" by the Defendant, and that "[r] ejection of payment is called for [sic] discharge of charges [sic] via Uniform Commercial Code." Id. at 2. The Defendant requested the Court "issue a Bill of Quia Timet for an injunction to move the [C]ourt for dismissal via Fraud Upon the Court with prejudice if the Representative failed to comply with the demand." Id. at 1. In support of these claims, the Defendant again cited the Uniform Commercial Code and Private International Law, as well as "Ecclesiastical Law." Id. at 1-2.

         Ten days later, on May 10, 2018, the Defendant filed his Request for Default, stating that he was entitled to such relief because, inter alia, 'there ha[d] been a failure to respond or otherwise defend to [sic] the Undersigned's previous Notices." (Doc. 63 at 1). The Defendant additionally argued "that no Corpus Delecti ha[d] been proven for this court case," apparently on the grounds that "there [wa]s no constitutional lawful money in exchange and the common tender people use on a daily basis [wa]s a debt via promissory note. .." Id. at2.

         On May 11, 2018, the Defendant filed his Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the Indictment was "void on its face[, ] ... the institution of the prosecution is invalid[, and] ... thus, the case must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction." (Doc. 65 at 2). In support of these claims, the Defendant asserted, inter alia, that the "Plaintiff" lacked "standing" to bring the action and that the Court did not have personal jurisdiction over him. Id. at 2-5.

         On May 18, 2018, the Defendant filed his Motion to Compel, arguing, inter alia, that "dismissal [wa]s appropriate" under the circumstances in this case, including the government's "selective and/or vindictive . . . prosecution," as evidenced by the Representative's failure to respond to the Defendant's "documents," as well as the "improper joinder" that occurred after the Representative withdrew. (Doc. 68 at 1-2). In support of these claims, the Defendant cited, among other authority, "Ecclesiastical Law" and "Indigenous Rights." Id. at 3. The Defendant concluded his motion by asserting that "the courthouse & [sic] government would rather leave . .. [him] in dishonor and use his body as collateral for a fine to be ...


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