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July 23, 2012

Federal prisoner claims need for medical care prompted escape

As reported in this AP article, a federal "inmate with Mafia ties is asking a judge to have a heart, claiming his own ticker is in such bad shape, he just had to escape from federal custody to seek help."  Here is more:

Derek A. Capozzi, convicted in a gangster-related killing in Massachusetts, said he kicked out the back of a U.S. Marshals transport van in April 2010 because he can't get the medical care he needs while behind bars.

Prosecutors said when he was on the lam for several days, he didn't seek any treatment. And when he was captured in a Dairy Queen parking lot in central Kentucky, marshals said, he had a different excuse for escape: "I'm pulling 53 years."

Capozzi is to appear before U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood on Monday in Lexington on a federal escape charge.  Capozzi is in prison for his role in the 1996 killing and dismemberment of 19-year-old Aislin Silva.  She was ordered killed by the leader of the Mafia-affiliated gang that Capozzi belonged to, so she wouldn't be able to cooperate with federal investigators, prosecutors said.

Capozzi claimed in court documents that several doctors have determined he needs to have his heart repaired after he was stabbed in the chest in 2008 while in a federal prison in California. "In the time leading up to his escape and subsequent to his apprehension, (Capozzi) experienced irregular heartbeats and restrictions of breath," his attorney, Steven Milner, wrote in court documents. Capozzi contends he has repeatedly been assured his heart problem will be addressed, but each time he is transferred to another state before anything is done.

The judge has not been persuaded by Capozzi's medical pleas, ruling the inmate may not argue that he tried to escape to seek medical attention....  Motions filed Friday indicate Capozzi intends to plead guilty but reserve the right to appeal the judge's rejection of his medical necessity defense.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Malloy has said Capozzi didn't seek medical help after his escape. "He hid out in a dentist's office," Malloy wrote in court documents.

July 23, 2012 at 02:59 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Capozzi has a better excuse than most you see trotted out by the defense. Maybe he should give some tips to Jerry Sandusky.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 23, 2012 8:39:32 AM

|| [Capozzi] had a different excuse for escape: "I'm pulling 53 years."...
Capozzi is in prison for his role in the 1996 killing and dismemberment of 19-year-old Aislin Silva. ||

|| Capozzi claimed in court documents that several doctors have determined he needs to have his heart repaired ||

|| Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Malloy has said Capozzi didn't seek medical help after his escape. "He hid out in a dentist's office," ||

Dentist, heart surgeon... he's got real needs!

When I was in the Army, that was my excuse for emerging from an incursion into the women's barracks. No, actually I just said that I was stupid.


Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 23, 2012 9:47:49 AM

Adamakis --

I would consider hanging out in the women's barracks anything but stupid.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 23, 2012 9:57:11 AM

awesome blog, i love reading your posts- you are full of so many great ideas! keep the posts coming, for me!:)

Posted by: Cupero Law | Jul 23, 2012 11:55:34 AM

interesting excuse. ESPECIALLY IF he can back it up. I think the judge is just asking for trouble by NOT allowing the defense. Makes me wonder what FDOC has to hide!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 23, 2012 12:52:02 PM

Is there even such a thing as an affirmative defense to federal escape? As I understand it, affirmative defenses are usually part of the statutory scheme rather than court invention. I would simply be very surprised if the federal escape statutes were to recognize any such thing.

Perhaps an affirmative defense of "I tried to turn myself in but there was no room at the inn." I recall a case being mentioned here (quite awhile back now), where the prisoner knew he was supposed to get transferred (I think between state and federal custody at the completion of the current sentence) and had let the facility know about it but the order fell through the cracks. So the guy hopped on a cross country bus and turned himself in where he was supposed to have been taken, I could see there being an affirmative defense under that scenario.

But I would have a much harder time believing a defense to escape charges is possible where even the slightest overt act in aid of the escape was made. Even in the case of a completely factually innocent convict I would expect there to be no affirmative defense to escape available. People are simply expected to work within the system rather than take such matters into their own hands.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 23, 2012 5:44:14 PM

IIRC, the only "defense" I can think of is if the inmate believes his/her life is in imminent danger if they stay in that prison. Even in that situation, however, the escapee must turn him/herself in immediately.

Posted by: anon | Jul 23, 2012 6:21:23 PM

Can't both things be true -- the escapee wishes to avoid a 53-year incarceration AND his heart needs surgical repair?

Regardless of whether a sick inmate has an affirmative defense for escaping, what's the argument against getting him the medical care he apparently needs?

The rest of it -- all the clucking and hee-hawing here about the fact he was hiding out in a dentist's office instead of a cardiologist's is just the sort of noise we expect and unfailingly get from the get-tough, no-excuses, let-'em-rot-in-prison folks.

Posted by: John K | Jul 24, 2012 9:12:35 AM

John K:

Then you pay for it, while you're offering to house all of the commuted murderers & sex offenders whom you saved from "rot[ting]-in prison".

How about you pay for the heart needs of the family of 19-year-old Aislin Silva? They may be Latino, which would give you an "affirmative" reason for "action".

Hee-haw,
No perdones folk group member

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 24, 2012 10:38:00 AM

Adamakis,

Call it socialism (as you tend to do). Call it Sunday-school indoctrination. Call it simple decency. I have no problem paying a share of the cost of essential medical care for poor people and prisoners.

Decent people and, by extension, decent countries don't blithely stand by and watch people suffer/die for lack of medical care.

If prisons were doing a better job of caring for ill/injured inmates, it's doubtful we'd be debating whether withholding treatment should be an affirmative defense for escapees.

Posted by: John K | Jul 24, 2012 12:40:09 PM

hmm

"Is there even such a thing as an affirmative defense to federal escape?"

Yes! and not just for federal escape! sorry but in my book if you have imprisoned me for a crime i know i've NOT comitted then i have every legal and moral right to remove myself from what is an illegal inprisonment...no matter who i have to hurt or kill to do it!

now this case on the other hand... well the sentence was evidently legal...so it's an escape charge for him!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 24, 2012 1:38:09 PM

|| If prisons were doing a better job of caring for ill/injured inmates, it's doubtful we'd be debating whether withholding treatment should be an affirmative defense for escapees. ||

Hardly, John K.:

Just considering my father and I, we have worked in state and local corrections for a combined total of ½ century—he as an Optometrist—and along with other personnel have only provided quality inmate care.

I have knowledge of the status (solid) of medical care in 4 states. Whereat are the examples of sufferings and deaths of which you speak? [A Sunday School lesson on Proverbs 6:19 & 18:13 and would be appropriate].

We ARE a decent country; those who advocate an entitlement and indulgent society, drag us toward indecency.

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 24, 2012 10:28:55 PM

BTW:
Who is “stand[ing] by and watch[ing] people suffer/die for lack of medical care’? Those who oppose born alive legislation?

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 24, 2012 10:30:27 PM

"Whereat are the examples of sufferings and deaths of which you speak?"

How about the matter before us -- the convict who makes a plausible case he has been denied treatment for a stab wound to his heart?

Also, would you explain why inmates held under our control and at our mercy should not be "entitled" to essential medical care...or how fixing the stabbed heart of one such inmate would amount to an indulgence.
.
BTW why am I not surprised one with your apparent sensibilities would attempt to derail this exchange into an abortion argument?

Posted by: John K | Jul 25, 2012 8:57:22 AM

John K --

D'yathink maybe if he actually had heart problems he would have sought medical help for them, instead of for his dentures?

You really do fall for every line these crooks put out.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 25, 2012 9:57:27 AM

Early this month, I overheard this exchange between a deadly serious parole violator and 2 C/Os:

Con: "My insurance carrier won't cover the s _ _ _, you have to."
C/O1: "Who's your insurance carrier?

Con: "Medicaid, and I ain't accepting 'No', just 'cause my eyes be 20/20. You givin'
me my f _ _ _ ___glasses. You payin' for it!"

C/O2: Yeah, all right Mr. _____, so you need glasses?
Con: Now that I'm here, you're responsible!

|| Audit: State makes $32.9M in overpayments because of Medicaid ID…from 2007 through 2010 [local] social services districts improperly assigned multiple ID numbers to 9,848 recipients…nearly 90% in NYC ||

Posted by: Adamakis | Jul 25, 2012 2:22:23 PM

Bill, maybe I'm gullible. Maybe you're jaded.

Posted by: John K | Jul 25, 2012 2:33:43 PM

John K --

I just call them as I see them. A guy who hangs out at the dentist either has no heart problems or is unconcerned about them, contrary to his lawyer's claim.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 25, 2012 3:25:00 PM

Really? Or could it be that a fugitive hangs out where he feels he's least likely to be captured...and not necessarily at the best cardiology hospital

Posted by: John K | Jul 26, 2012 8:37:27 AM

John K --

When THE WHOLE REASON he became a fugitive to start with was, he claims, that he desperately needed to get attention for his cardiac problems, and then he takes zero steps to get attention for them, do you think there's a basis to question the truthfulness of the stated reason?

Good grief, John K. You're not gullible -- you're way beyond gullible.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 26, 2012 10:40:53 AM

sorry john but i'm with bill here! If he'd been caught in the office of a heart specialist or even had some type of papers like and address or map of a heart specialist...then i might be willing to give hiim the benefit of thedoubt. but a DENTIST!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 26, 2012 1:53:03 PM

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