Hoffenberg v. Grondolsky, Civil Action No. 09-4784 (RMB)

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
PartiesSTEVEN JUDE HOFFENBERG, Plaintiff, v. JEFF GRONDOLSKY et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 09-4784 (RMB)
Decision Date14 January 2011

JEFF GRONDOLSKY et al., Defendants.

Civil Action No. 09-4784 (RMB)


Dated: January 14, 2011


Bumb, District Judge:

This matter comes before the Court upon Steven Jude Hoffenberg's ("Hoffenberg") filing of his fifth round of pleadings, see Docket Entry No. 59. For the reasons detailed below, the pleadings will be dismissed; such dismissal will be with prejudice. In addition, a limited order of preclusion will be entered against Hoffenberg.

During the last year and a half, Hoffenberg initiated three actions in this District. Because this Court Order, accompanying the instant Opinion, imposes limited preclusion as a result of Hoffenberg's frivolous litigation practices, the Court finds it prudent to recite Hoffenberg's litigation activities.

I. Hoffenberg v. Warden of Fort Dix, Civil Action No. 09-3375

On July 9, 2009, the Clerk received Hoffenberg's petition, submitted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2241, see Hoffenberg v. Warden of Fort Dix, Civil Action No. 09-3375 ("Hoffenberg-Habeas") Docket Entry No. 1, which arrived unaccompanied by either his filing fee of $5.00 or his in forma pauperis application. See id. One week later, on July 16, 2009, the Clerk received a letter from

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Hoffenberg noting his concern with the fact that he had not received a "reply from Court Clerk's Office" and expressing his opinion that such lack of "reply" must have been indicative of Hoffenberg's prison officials' "obstruction" of his access to his legal mail. See id., Docket Entry No. 2. In response, the Clerk forwarded Hoffenberg a copy of the docket sheet in the Hoffenberg-Habeas matter. See id. On the next day, that is, on July 17, 2009, the Clerk received Hoffenberg's motion, see id, Docket Entry No. 3, reasserting Hoffenberg's claim that the warden at Hoffenberg's place of confinement must have been "obstructing" his access to legal mail because Hoffenberg had not received any correspondence from the Court during the whole eight days of the pendency of the Hoffenberg-Habeas matter. See id., Docket Entry No. 3, at 1. Hoffenberg, therefore, requested that all correspondence to him be mailed by "special mail, " although he did not clarify his meaning of the term "special mail."1 See, generally, id., Docket Entry No. 3.

Addressing Hoffenberg's challenges asserted in Hoffenberg-Habeas, this Court noted that Hoffenberg pled guilty-and was sentenced-in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ("SDNY"). See Hoffenberg v. United States, 436 F. Supp. 2d 609, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42222 (S.D.N.Y. 2006). The SDNY summarized Petitioner's underlying criminal proceedings as follows:

From 1974 until April 1993, Hoffenberg served as the chief executive officer, president, and chairman of the board of Towers Financial Corporation ("TFC"). In February 1993, following a lengthy investigation, the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") filed suit against Hoffenberg, TFC, and other TFC officials for, among other things, securities fraud through the circulation of false and misleading financial statements to investors regarding TFC's financial condition. Soon

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thereafter, in March 1993, TFC filed for bankruptcy. The collapse of TFC resulted in losses to investors totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. On April 19, 1994, Hoffenberg was indicted in the Northern District of Illinois on various fraud charges, including mail fraud. On April 20, 1994, Hoffenberg was indicted in the [SDNY] on numerous charges related to the SEC investigation and lawsuit, including mail fraud, securities fraud in connection with the sale of notes and bonds of TFC, unlawful conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.... The indictment pending in the Northern District of Illinois was transferred to the [SDNY]. On April 20, 1995, Hoffenberg pled guilty to four counts of a superseding information related to the April 20, 1994 indictment: (I) conspiracy to violate the securities laws by fraudulently selling securities...; (ii) mail fraud...; (iii) conspiracy to obstruct justice...; and (iv) tax evasion.... Hoffenberg also pled guilty to one count of the indictment transferred from the Northern District of Illinois: mail fraud.... On March 7, 1997, [the SDNY] sentenced Hoffenberg to twenty years' imprisonment, followed by a three-year term of supervised release, as well as a $ 1 million fine, approximately $ 475 million in restitution, and a $ 50 special assessment on each of the five counts. Hoffenberg appealed his criminal conviction and sentence and on September 22, 1998 the Second Circuit affirmed the conviction and sentence. Hoffenberg filed a petition for rehearing and a petition for rehearing en banc, which the Second Circuit denied in a January 15, 1999 order. Hoffenberg is currently incarcerated and serving his sentence.

Id. at *2-5 (citations omitted).

The petition in Hoffenberg-Habeas presented a potpourri of challenges in the sense that some statements made in Hoffenberg's petition were "pegged" to the events underlying his criminal conviction, while other statements presented considerations relevant to habeas applications, with the remaining challenges seemingly aiming to assert civil rights claims. Specifically, for his habeas-like line of challenges, Hoffenberg qualified himself as an "elderly person" on the grounds that he turned 65. See id., Docket Entry No. 1, at 2. He, therefore, believed that he had to be transferred from his current place of confinement at Fort Dix (and from being incarcerated in "a" federal correctional institution, in general) to home confinement for the remainder of his sentence, under the Second Chance Act, even though he served only thirteen and one half years of his twenty-year prison sentence, and the Second Chance Act allows consideration of home confinement for persons over

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65 who served the greater period between the period of 10 years and 75% of their imposed term. See id.. In his line of challenges "pegged" to his criminal conviction, Hoffenberg asserted that the very fact of his confinement in Fort Dix was illegal because it prevented collection of the restitution ordered in Hoffenberg's underlying criminal matter. See id. at 3. According to Hoffenberg's petition, the warden of Fort Dix "issued a number of written communication(s) stating that [the prison officials] will not comply with [the] restitution and fine court orders."2 Id. (capitalization, bolding and underlining removed, alternative plural in original). From this statement, the Court gathered that Hoffenberg was trying to assert that the warden was acting in contempt of Petitioner's sentencing court.

In addition to the foregoing, Hoffenberg's petition contained a phrase reading, "obstruction of [Petitioner's] court access ongoing, " id. at 4 (capitalization, bolding and underlining removed), and referred to an "exhibit 2, " which-however-was not included in Hoffenbeg's submission. See id. In addition, the "Statement of Facts" section in Hoffenberg's petition concluded with the following phrase: "Leave to amend this motion into a civil rights litigation for jury trial under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 jurisdiction Federal Civil Rule 15 Foman v. Davis 9 L.Ed. 2d 222 (1962)." Id. at 5 (capitalization, bolding and underlining removed). Finally, the last page of the petition stated: "Should this Respondent seek to litigate this simple request for consideration of home detention, this... Court is requested to grant leave to amend this action. This... Court is requested to order this Petitioner to amend this action under Federal Civil Rule 15, Foman v. Davis 9 L.Ed. 2d 222 (1962),

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into the Petitioner[']s civil rights action, under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 federal question jurisdiction. Order leave for the Petitioner to amend this action under Federal Civil Rule 15 into the Petitioner[']s civil rights action, 28 U.S.C. § 1331 federal question, Bivens, B.O.P. staff violations of scope of employment, ongoing staff liability, jury trial." Id. at 5 (capitalization, bolding and underlining removed). The totality of these statements suggested Hoffenberg's interest in pursuing civil rights challenges.

In response to this panoply of poorly articulated claims, this Court issued a memorandum opinion and order dated August 31, 2009. See Hoffenberg-Habeas, Docket Entry No. 4. The Court dismissed Hoffenberg's Second Chance Act challenges as unexhausted3 and pointed out that Hoffenberg's civil rights challenges, such as access to the courts claims, should be brought in a separate civil action by means of filing a civil complaint rather than a habeas petition. The Court, therefore, dismissed such potential civil rights challenges also without prejudice, leaving an avenue for Hoffenberg to litigate these matters in good faith.4

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II. Instant Action: Hoffenberg v. Grondolsky, Civil Action No. 09-4784

A. Procedural History

Seemingly in response to the Court's order issued in Hoffenberg-Habeas, Hoffenberg initiated the instant matter on September 21, 2009, by submitting his civil complaint. See Docket Entry No. 1.5 The complaint, packed into a 100-page submission (and encompassing 371 virtually incomprehensible paragraphs heavily peppered by bolding, capitalization and underlining), arrived accompanied by Hoffenberg's application to proceed...

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