A Portola Valley real estate developer convicted of bank fraud says an 18-month sentence in the Lompoc prison camp would violate his religious freedom.
According to a lawsuit filed Thursday in United States District Court in Los Angeles, Mark Migdal, 73, is suing the Federal Bureau of Prisons for violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Eighth Amendment against cruel and unusual punishment.
He is represented by San Francisco civil rights attorney Stuart Hanlon.
Mr. Migdal claims he was born Jewish and is a practicing Jew. Under his interpretation of Jewish rules he is obligated to care for his wife, Anetta Migdal, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, the year he was charged with bank fraud.
Mrs. Migdal’s doctors recommend a hysterectomy, but if Mr. Migdal is imprisoned in Lompoc there will be no one to care for her or their 11-year-old daughter, Rachel.
“Migdal sincerely believes he that he has an obligation, as embodied by the Torah and his marriage vows, to take are of his wife in sickness and health and also take care of his child. Migdal cannot adhere to this important religious belief when confined in the federal prison camp in Lompoc.”
Mr. Migdal argues the Bureau of Prison should transfer his sentence to a Residential Reentry Management Center in San Francisco that would allow him to leave for the day to care for his wife and child.
He also claims that the Lompoc prison would not provide him with adequate physical therapy for his knee replacements or treatment for torn rotator cuffs, blocked arteries in his heart and a hiatal hernia because of his relatively short sentence.
The Bureau of Prisons does not allow inmates with less than 12 months to serve to apply for procedures classified as elective care.
While Mr. Migdal will serve 15 months in prison with good time, by the time the evaluation process is done his doctors say he will not be eligible for the rotator cuff of hernia procedures.
“Because of BOP’s policies and practices Migdal will either be entirely denied adequate medical care for his specific serious medical needs or receive delayed treatment of his serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” reads the complaint, which claims delayed treatment is likely to cause unnecessary pain and damage to Mr. Migdal’s physical health.
The first hearing will be set after the Bureau of Prisons files a response.