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United States v. Crawford

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division

July 10, 2017



         A prominent celebrity is outspoken about his belief in Scientology and distaste for psychiatry. Kent Allen Crawford, too, is outspoken about his religious beliefs (in his case Seventh Day Adventism) and distaste for psychiatry. Crawford drove those points home while testifying before this Court during a “4241 hearing”[1] to prove he is competent to plead guilty to violating the terms of his supervised release.

         Unlike that celebrity, however, Crawford is a serial felon who has spent much of his adult life in prison and mental-health institutions. And instead of the proverbial ex-wives and paparazzi moments, his life's wake is littered with over-the-top episodes (e.g., phoned a bomb threat directly to the FBI; asked a urologist cut his genitals off; attempted suicide in a Home Depot parking lot). So it comes as no surprise that the Government wants this Court to find him not competent to proceed with the revocation proceedings that it commenced over his latest offense (failure to report to his Probation Officer). Docs. 43, 57.

         As part of those proceedings, the Court directed Crawford's evaluation, which produced a “he's incompetent” report, then conducted a hearing. Recounting Crawford's lengthy record of crimes and institutionalizations, a Federal Bureau of Prisons Psychologist opines that he suffers from “Schizoaffective Disorder” and “Borderline Personality Disorder.” CR409-107, doc. 58 at 3. Plus, he currently “is in an active state of psychosis” that prevents him from assisting in his own defense. Id. at 4, 6. Crawford, however, quite lucidly testified that he simply manipulated her and otherwise understands the proceedings against him. The Court finds him “§ 4241 competent.”

         I. BACKGROUND [2]

         Crawford has a long history within the federal court/prison system, and his now fairly consistent behavior (outrageous stunts that fetch him “three hots and a cot”) reveals a fairly consistent end-point for him: an extended stay at the “Federal Inn, ” in preference over living on the street. Over nine years ago, the same forensic psychologist, Lisa B. Feldman, Psy. D., opined that he was incompetent to stand trial for violating 18 USC § 844(e) (threat to destroy building by fire or explosive). United States v. Crawford, CR407-284, doc. 13 at 14 (S.D. Ga. Feb. 5, 2008) (Feldman's report); doc. 38 at 1 (his 2009 guilty plea agreement to that charge). The Court agreed, citing his extensive history of mental health treatment beginning at the age of sixteen, when he was hospitalized due to an antihistamine overdose and diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Doc. 18 at 10-11. Feldman's 2017 diagnosis includes schizophrenia, coupled with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and she has relied on his extensive record to support that conclusion -- a record that's particularly critical here since Crawford, as in the past, refused to cooperate in her attempt to assess him.

         That record shows that between the ages 19 and 32, Crawford endured approximately ten to twelve psychiatric inpatient hospital admissions. Following a one-year period of hospitalization ending in 1984, he barricaded himself in a room with a gun to his head, resulting in a five-hour police standoff. CR407-284, doc. 18 at 2. In 1993, Crawford was convicted of mailing threatening communications to local physicians. Id. (citing United States v. Crawford, No. 493CR043 (S.D. Ga., filed Nov. 18, 1993)). He had approached a Savannah, Georgia, urologist about groin pain and asked that he cut his genitals off. Finding nothing physically wrong with Crawford, the urologist referred him to a psychiatrist. Shortly thereafter, defendant began mailing and phoning threats to that doctor's home, office, and family. He also threatened a Savannah area dentist. Id. at 2-3.

         Although Crawford was found competent to stand trial for that 1993 case, his evaluating psychologist, Dr. Scott Duncan, Psy. D., diagnosed him with polysubstance dependence (in remission), major depression with obsessive-compulsive traits, hypochondriasis, passive aggressive personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. CR407-284, doc. 18 at 3.

         Crawford was tried, convicted, and sentenced to sixty months' imprisonment. Soon after he began serving that sentence, however, his mental condition deteriorated, and his behavior resulted in his transfer from the Federal Correctional Institution in Tallahassee, Florida to the Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina. Shortly thereafter, the Eastern District of North Carolina ordered that he be committed to the custody of the Attorney General for hospitalization and treatment in a suitable facility -- until he no longer required treatment or until his sentence expired. United States v. Crawford, No. 5:94hc331 (E.D. N.C. June 9, 1994). CR407-284, doc. 18 at 3.

         At FCI Butner, defendant was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, undifferentiated type; depressive disorder; polysubstance abuse; and BPD. He was placed on suicide watch approximately eighteen times during his stay there. After a suicide attempt in April of 1995, Crawford was reportedly preoccupied with the delusion that he was imprisoned for his religious affiliation with the Seventh Day Adventists (he was asked about this at the June 21, 2017 hearing, and denied harboring this delusion). He reported to examiners that the government incarcerates everyone who refuses to worship on Sundays. CR407-284, doc. 18 at 3-4.

         Upon completion of that sentence, the Government civilly committed Crawford pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4246, as it was determined that his release would pose an unacceptable risk to the community. Consequently, he was transferred to the United States Medical Facility for federal prisoners in Springfield, Missouri, where he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and BPD. While in Springfield, defendant became increasingly paranoid and delusional. He believed that the staff members were conspiring against him due to his knowledge of their illegal behavior. As Crawford had consistent difficulties with the staff in the Springfield facility, he was transferred to the Federal Medical Center in Devens, Massachusetts in 2004. CR407-284, doc. 18 at 4-5.

         In Devens, the psychology staff found Crawford to be irascible and uncooperative. He refused psychotropic medication. In 2006, Crawford once again began verbalizing his belief that staff and other inmates were treating him unfairly due to his religious beliefs. He wrote several letters threatening suicide or the murder of a staff member. In August of 2006, the Risk Assessment Panel at the Devens facility assigned him the diagnoses of psychotic disorder, alcohol abuse, cocaine abuse, and borderline personality disorder. They recommended that his commitment be continued because his release would create a substantial risk of injury to others. CR407-284, doc. 18 at 4-5.

         On June 4, 2007, a district judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina held a hearing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4247(h). Crawford's treating psychiatrist testified that he did not believe that defendant met the diagnostic criteria for a major mental illness. The Risk Assessment Panel, however, still believed that he should remain institutionalized. Based upon the evidence presented at the hearing, the district court found that Crawford no longer met the criteria for such commitment and ordered his release. CR407-284, doc. 18 at 5-6.

         But defendant was held in Devens for an additional sixty days so that the authorities could attempt to “find some humanitarian disposition for [him], by way of state placement or otherwise.” CR407-284, doc. 18 at 6 (quotes and cite omitted). On August 3, 2007, he was released from Devens. He immediately traveled by bus to Savannah. Within two weeks local police admitted him to Memorial Hospital after he once again threatened one of the same physicians he targeted in his original federal offense. Memorial Hospital transferred him to Georgia Regional Hospital, a psychiatric facility, on August 14, 2007. Upon admission, defendant was diagnosed with schizoaffective/psychosis and major depression. Id.

         On August 29, 2007, during his stay at Georgia Regional, Crawford contacted the Savannah branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation by telephone and claimed that he was going to “blow up” their office. He called the office three times in approximately thirty minutes. During the final call, he told Senior Supervisory Resident Agent Bill Kirkconnell that he made the threats in order to be transferred from the mental health facility, where he was allegedly treated poorly, to a federal prison. That tactic -- committing a crime to remain confined, and in the institution of his choice -- resurfaces here. CR407-284, doc. 18 at 6-7.

         For his bomb threats, Crawford was prosecuted but initially found incompetent to stand trial, and “insane at the time of alleged offense.” CR407-284, doc. 13 at 14-15 (Feldman's Report reaching that conclusion); doc. 18 (Court's ruling accepting same). Later, however, the Court determined that Crawford's competency had been restored, doc. 29, and accepted his guilty plea to violating 18 U.S.C. § 844(e). Doc. 38 (agreement); doc. 40 (Judgment imposing 21 months). The Court ultimately revoked his supervised release in CR407-284, doc. 49 at 3 (15 month sentence), and in United States v. Crawford, CR409-107, sentenced him to 77 months, consecutive to that 15-month sentence, for violating 18 U.S.C. § 115 (“Threatening a federal official”), followed by three years of supervised release. CR409-107, doc. 31 at 1, ...

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