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Carden v. Town of Harpersville

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 21, 2017

DANA CARDEN, Plaintiff,
TOWN OF HARPERSVILLE, et al., Defendants.



         This case is before the court on the Motions to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended and Restated Complaint[1] (Docs. # 47-49), filed by Defendants Judicial Correction Services, Inc. (“JCS”), Correctional Healthcare Companies, Inc. (“Correctional Healthcare”), CHC Companies, Inc. (“CHC Companies”), and the Town of Harpersville (“Harpersville”). This case is also before the court on Defendant Harpersville's Motion to Strike Class Allegations Based on Griffin and Ewing. (Doc. # 89). The motions have been fully briefed and are under submission. (See Docs. # 59-61, 64-66, 100, 102).

         This suit is a putative class action challenging conduct related to probation sentences issued by the Town of Harpersville's Municipal Court (“Municipal Court”). It is similar to several putative class action suits that have been brought against JCS, corporate entities related to JCS, and municipalities that contracted with JCS for probation supervision services. The court has ruled on numerous motions to dismiss raising arguments similar to those presented in these motions. Having said that, the motions before the court are unique in two respects. First, Plaintiff has brought claims against Defendants under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq., and Defendants seek to dismiss those claims. Second, Plaintiff filed this suit after a similar state court putative class action had been pending for over five years; this related class action suit affects the statute of limitations analysis. After careful review, and for the reasons explained below, the court concludes that: (1) JCS and Correctional Healthcare's Motion to Dismiss is due to be granted in part and denied in part; (2) CHC Companies's Motion to Dismiss is due to be granted; (3) Harpersville's Motion to Dismiss is due to be granted in part and denied in part; and (4) Harpersville's Motion to Strike Class Allegations is due to be granted.

         I. Background

         The court begins its factual discussion with a review of the related court actions that preceded this suit. Then, the court discusses the allegations of the First Amended Complaint.

         A. Procedural Background

         On March 3, 2010, a group of plaintiffs sued Harpersville and JCS in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Alabama for conduct occurring in the Municipal Court. (Doc. # 6 at ¶ 21). Although the original complaint in that state court action, Richard Garrett, et al. v. Town of Harpersville, Alabama, et al., Case Number CV-2010-900183 (Cir. Ct. Shelby Cty., Ala.) was not filed with the court, the court has reviewed that document because it is a public record referenced in the Amended Complaint. The original Garrett complaint sought declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of a class. (See Garrett v. Town of Harpersville, Case No. CV-2010-900183, Doc. # 2 at ¶ 10 (Cir. Ct. Shelby Cty., Ala., Mar. 3, 2010)). The proposed class included all persons incarcerated by JCS and Harpersville “in whole or in part for failure to pay fines and/or court costs, . . . where [JCS and Harpersville] made no determination as to such persons' financial ability to pay fines and/or court costs.” (Id. at ¶ 11). Among other claims, the initial Garrett complaint alleged that JCS and Harpersville violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by violating the plaintiffs' Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Id. at ¶¶ 56-58).

         On July 17, 2012, the plaintiffs in the Garrett action filed a third amended complaint asserting class claims. (Doc. # 6 at ¶ 23). That class complaint sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief on behalf of multiple classes. (See Doc. # 11-2 at ¶¶ 7-10). The proposed classes in the third amended Garrett complaint included (1) all individuals incarcerated by JCS and Harpersville for failure to pay fines and/or court costs without any determination of indigency, (2) all individuals charged jail fees by JCS and Harpersville for each day of incarceration, and (3) all individuals charged a monthly fee of $45 per month by JCS. (Id. at ¶¶ 7-9). Among other claims, the third amended complaint in Garrett alleged that JCS and Harpersville violated 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by violating the plaintiffs' Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (See Id. at ¶¶ 64-70).

         On August 14, 2015, Plaintiff Dana Carden filed this putative class action on behalf of two classes of individuals who appeared before the Municipal Court. (Doc. # 1 at 1 & ¶ 6). Plaintiff sought to sue on behalf of individuals assigned to probation with Defendant JCS by the Municipal Court and individuals “incarcerated without consideration of their indigency” by the Municipal Court. (Id. at ¶ 6). Plaintiff filed her First Amended Complaint in September 2015 on behalf of the same proposed classes. (Doc. # 6 at 1 & ¶ 6). The First Amended Complaint discussed the existence of a similar suit against Defendants Harpersville and JCS in the Circuit Court of Shelby County, Alabama. (Id. at ¶ 21).

         Defendants initially sought to stay or dismiss this case under the Colorado River doctrine. (Docs. # 11, 14). Defendant Harpersville argued that this putative class action duplicated the putative class action in Garrett. (Doc. # 11 at 3). The court denied Defendants' motions to abstain from considering this case under the Colorado River doctrine finding that the relevant factors weighed against abstention. (See Doc. # 43 at 19-26). Furthermore, it concluded that abstention was not mandated under the first-filed rule. (Id. at 26-27). In September 2016, Defendants filed the current motions to dismiss. (Docs. # 47-49).

         B. Relevant Allegations in the First Amended Complaint

         The court reviews the “facts” of this case by examining the well-pleaded facts alleged in the First Amended Complaint. Plaintiff alleges that she received the following citations from a Harpersville police officer in 2007: speeding, driving without insurance, and driving without a license. (Doc. # 6 at ¶ 63). Plaintiff recounts that she did not receive a court date for that ticket. (Id. at ¶¶ 64-66). In May 2010, officers in Sylacauga, Alabama arrested her for outstanding warrants from Harpersville. (Id. at ¶ 67). The warrants against Plaintiff charged her with failing to appear. (Id.). Plaintiff remained in jail for 19 days in May and June 2010 because she could not pay the $1, 434 bond demanded by Harpersville.[2] (Id. at ¶¶ 69-70).

         Plaintiff appeared before the Municipal Court on June 10, 2010. (Id. at ¶ 71). Judge Larry Ward presided over the Municipal Court. (Id. at ¶ 73). Plaintiff alleges she was shackled during her hearing at the Municipal Court (id. at ¶ 76), and was not represented by counsel. (Id. at ¶ 77). She explained that she could not pay the cash bond because she had been caring for a premature baby and could not obtain work. (Id. at ¶ 79). The Municipal Court sentenced her to probation -- to be supervised by JCS -- and required her to sign the probation papers to be released from jail. (Id. at ¶¶ 80, 82). According to Plaintiff, she was charged $967 for speeding, $628 for driving without a license, and $578 for driving without insurance. (Id. at ¶ 87). Plaintiff claims that these fines exceeded the statutory maximum for municipal-court fines because she was also charged for daily jail fees. (Id. at ¶ 88). Plaintiff alleges that Harpersville issued another arrest warrant against her when she was unable to pay the amounts JCS demanded her to pay. (Id. at ¶¶ 91-92).

         The First Amended Complaint states that Harpersville's City Council dissolved the Municipal Court on August 8, 2012. (Id. at ¶ 98). All of its traffic cases were transferred to the District Court of Shelby County, Alabama. (Id.). On December 27, 2012, the District Court of Shelby County declared all active traffic cases from the Municipal Court to be paid in full. (Id. at ¶ 99). The District Court also recalled any warrant associated with a traffic case from the Municipal Court. (Id.). But, Plaintiff received no notice from Harpersville or JCS regarding the District Court's termination of traffic cases. (Id. at ¶ 101). She called the clerk's office at the District Court, but the District Court's clerk did not confirm that the warrant against her had been invalidated. (Id. at ¶ 102).

         C. Claims in the First Amended Complaint

         Plaintiff has filed suit on behalf of two classes. (See Id. at ¶ 104). First, Plaintiff seeks to represent a class of “individuals who were assigned by the Harpersville Municipal Court to ‘probation' with JCS for the collection of fines.” (Id.). Second, Plaintiff seeks to represent a class of “individuals who, despite their indigency, were incarcerated without consideration of their indigency for failure to pay fines, charges[, ] and fees from the Harpersville Municipal Court.” (Id.).

         Plaintiff presents five sets of § 1983 claims against Defendants. First, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Harpersville violated her due process rights by agreeing to require the Municipal Court to include probation sentences and probation supervision fees in the orders entered by the Municipal Court, regardless of whether the Municipal Court imposed a jail sentence. (See Id. at ¶¶ 123, 125). Plaintiff also claims that Defendant Harpersville violated her due process rights by failing to ensure that, before imprisoning her, the Municipal Court (1) considered her indigency, (2) gave her notice of all charges against her, (3) conducted a hearing on charges that might result in her imprisonment, and (4) provided her assistance from counsel. (Id. at ¶ 127). According to Plaintiff, the system created by Harpersville and JCS imposed fines and charged fees to indigent persons without considering their indigency. (Id. at ¶ 133). And, Harpersville personnel allegedly accepted JCS's recommendations to imprison probationers without conducting delinquency hearings. (Id. at ¶ 136). After probationers were incarcerated, Plaintiff alleges that Harpersville violated their due process rights by arbitrarily releasing some of them based solely on their ability to pay cash bonds. (Id. at ¶ 146). Plaintiff alleges similar due process violations by Defendant JCS, who she claims “conspired and acted in concert” with Harpersville. (See Id. at ¶¶ 149-80). Specifically, Plaintiff charges that JCS's actions often caused court costs, fines, and fees to exceed the jurisdictional maximum of $500 and caused probation sentences to exceed the two year statutory maximum. (Id. at ¶ 172).

         Second, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant Harpersville violated her Fourth Amendment rights by arresting and detaining probationers, including Plaintiff, who could not pay the fines imposed by the Municipal Court. (Id. at ¶¶ 183, 187). Plaintiff claims that Harpersville's police officers enforced the collection procedures used by JCS, allowing JCS to threaten probationers with arrest or probation revocation. (Id. at ¶ 188). And, Harpersville's employees purportedly “cooperated with JCS to arrest and jail the Plaintiff and class members.” (Id. at ¶ 189). With regard to Defendant JCS, Plaintiff alleges that it “instituted the issuance of arrest warrants” when it knew that the probationers it proceeded against were unable to pay the amounts owed and that many probationers had no jail time assessed against them by the Municipal Court. (Id. at ¶ 199). Moreover, Plaintiff claims that JCS sought to either revoke probation sentences or instituted charges against probationers for “failure to obey court order” unless the probationers promptly paid JCS. (Id. at ¶ 200).

         Third, Plaintiff asserts that Harpersville and JCS violated her Sixth Amendment right to counsel. (See Id. at ¶¶ 203-40). Plaintiff alleges that she was arrested and jailed for 19 days due to tickets that had been issued to her several years earlier. (Id. at ¶¶ 206-08). The Municipal Court directed her to pay a fine, but placed her on probation when she was unable to pay the fine immediately. (Id. at ¶ 210). Plaintiff claims that JCS threatened to jail probationers and actually incarcerated probationers -- with the assistance of Harpersville employees -- “if the fines, fees[, ] and costs were not paid as demanded.” (Id. at ¶ 216). According to Plaintiff, JCS routinely initiated charges against probationers for probation violations, failures to appear, or failures to obey court orders. (Id. at ¶ 218). Even though Plaintiff and other probationers faced jail sentences at that point, “neither JCS nor Harpersville routinely provided counsel for these ‘offenders.'” (Id. at ¶ 219). Plaintiff contends that Defendant Harpersville denied her the right to counsel when she was imprisoned for nineteen days “because she could not pay the $1, 434 cash [bond] demanded for her release on traffic ticket charges.” (Id. at ¶ 222). Moreover, she asserts that JCS instituted a system where “there was no finding or hearing on the issue of willfulness” to substantiate charges that probationers had willfully failed to pay the amounts owed to JCS and Harpersville. (Id. at ¶ 236).

         Fourth, Plaintiff claims that Harpersville and JCS violated her Eighth Amendment rights to be free from excessive fines, excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishment. (Id. at ¶¶ 241, 259). She alleges that the fines and fees imposed by the Municipal Court, including purportedly illegal probation fees imposed on behalf of JCS, exceeded the statutory maximum fine that could lawfully be imposed by the Municipal Court. (Id. at ¶¶ 244, 248, 250). Moreover, she contends that the periods of incarceration imposed for probationers' failures to pay exceeded the maximum imprisonment term authorized under Alabama law. (Id. at ¶¶ 245-46, 250). And, according to Plaintiff, JCS and Harpersville violated the Eighth Amendment by charging her jail fees of $15 per day of incarceration because “[t]he practice and policy of charging for jail time when a person has neither the ability nor opportunity to obtain release violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against excessive fines and cruel and unusual punishment.” (Id. at ¶¶ 251, 253).

         Finally, Plaintiff claims that Harpersville and JCS violated her equal protection rights by disparately treating Municipal Court defendants on the basis of wealth. (See Id. at ¶¶ 275-99). Plaintiff claims that poor people received disparate treatment in the adjudication of their traffic offenses because Municipal Court defendants who could fully pay fines and costs were not placed on JCS-supervised probation, whereas Municipal Court defendants who could not fully pay fines and costs were placed on JCS-supervised probation and required to pay court costs and jail fees if imprisoned. (Id. at ¶¶ 277-78). Plaintiff insists that no rational basis exists for the disparate treatment. (Id. at ¶ 281).

         In addition to her § 1983 claims, Plaintiff has sued Defendants under RICO. (See Id. at ¶¶ 321-417). Plaintiff alleges that JCS and Harpersville created an association-in-fact enterprise as “a result of [their] conspiratorial agreement to use the City Court's authority and police power to extort money from the poor.” (Id. at ¶¶ 321-22). She claims that JCS acted in concert with Harpersville and the Municipal Court by keeping separate records and failing to review the Municipal Court's original court records. (Id. at ¶ 324). Likewise, Plaintiff alleges Harpersville failed to check or audit its files. (Id. at ¶ 325). Plaintiff contends that Harpersville police officers participated in the extortion scheme by arresting people who were unable to pay amounts owed and seeking cash bonds for their release. (Id. at ¶ 327).

         Plaintiff alleges that JCS and Harpersville furthered their enterprise by requesting the Alabama Department of Transportation to revoke licenses for non-payment of fines. (Id. at ¶ 331). Defendants also furthered the purported enterprise by threatening to jail probationers, illegally imposing extra fees for warrants, illegally charging probationers for jail time, and illegally “adding bogus ‘probation violation' charges that had not and were not adjudicated.” (Id. at ¶ 338). Plaintiff asserts that JCS and Harpersville engaged in a pattern of racketeering acts from June 2005 to the summer of 2012. (Id. at ¶¶ 361-67).

         Plaintiff further claims that JCS and Harpersville conducted, participated in, and conspired to conduct a RICO enterprise by engaging in acts of extortion that violated the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951, the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1952, and Alabama Code § 13A-8-13.[3] (Id. at ¶ 341). According to Plaintiff, JCS and Harpersville extorted the proposed class members by threatening them with incarceration, revocation of probation, and accusations of violating probation unless they agreed to pay the set-up fees and monthly fees charged by JCS. (Id. at ¶ 344). Plaintiff asserts that JCS and Harpersville violated the Hobbs Act because they extorted money from Plaintiff and the class members “under color of official right.” (Id. at ¶ 351). This extortion affected interstate commerce because the proceeds were used in commerce. (Id. at ¶ 352). Moreover, Plaintiff claims that JCS and Harpersville violated the Travel Act by using letters sent through the mail as a method for demanding payment, including petitions to revoke probation, failure to report letters, notices to show cause, and violation of probation letters. (Id. at ¶¶ 356, 359). Also, Plaintiff claims that JCS violated the Travel Act by conducting extortionate acts in Alabama through a corporate entity based outside of Alabama. (Id. at ¶¶ 358-59). Finally, Plaintiff alleges that Harpersville received debt financing at preferential rates due to the revenue it received from its enterprise with JCS. (Id. at ¶ 360).

         II. Standard of Review

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint provide “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). However, the complaint must include enough facts “to raise a right to relief above the speculative level.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Pleadings that contain nothing more than “a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action” do not meet Rule 8 standards, nor do pleadings suffice that are based merely upon “labels and conclusions” or “naked assertion[s]” without supporting factual allegations. Id. at 555, 557. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, courts view the allegations in the complaint in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Watts v. Fla. Int'l Univ., 495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007).

         To survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint must “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although “[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement, '” the complaint must demonstrate “more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id. A plausible claim for relief requires “enough fact[s] to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence” to support the claim. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556.

         In considering a motion to dismiss, a court should “1) eliminate any allegations in the complaint that are merely legal conclusions; and 2) where there are well-pleaded factual allegations, ‘assume their veracity and then determine whether they plausibly give rise to an entitlement to relief.'” Kivisto v. Miller, Canfield, Paddock & Stone, PLC, 413 F.App'x 136, 138 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Am. Dental Ass'n v. Cigna Corp., 605 F.3d 1283, 1290 (11th Cir. 2010)). That task is context specific and, to survive the motion, the allegations must permit the court based on its “judicial experience and common sense . . . to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. If the court determines that all of the well-pleaded facts, accepted as true, do not state a claim that is plausible, the claims are due to be dismissed. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570.

         III. Analysis

         After careful review, and for the following reasons, the court concludes that (1) Plaintiff's RICO claims are due to be dismissed, (2) Plaintiff's class allegations are due to be struck as untimely, (3) Plaintiff's § 1983 claims, with the exception of her due process and equal protection claims, are due to be dismissed for failure to state a claim, and (4) all claims against Defendant CHC Companies are due to be dismissed because the First Amended Complaint presents no plausible basis for holding CHC Companies liable for the conduct at issue.

         A. RICO Claims

         Defendants JCS and Correctional Healthcare argue that Plaintiff's RICO claims fail in several respects. First, they argue that Plaintiff did not face most of the extortionate conduct allegedly committed by JCS or Harpersville. (Doc. # 47 at 30-31). Second, they contend that JCS's warnings to probationers were not wrongful threats because Defendants JCS and Harpersville had a lawful claim to the money JCS sought from probationers in the proposed class. (Id. at 31). Third, they argue that the damages alleged by Plaintiff are not actionable damages under RICO because JCS had a rightful claim to the fees paid by probationers. (Id. at 32-33). Fourth, they contend that JCS could not have committed extortion because it collected funds in a quasi-judicial capacity for Harpersville's municipal government. (Id. at 33-34).

         Defendant Harpersville has advanced arguments specific to itself. The Town argues that Plaintiff's RICO claims fail for three reasons. First, it insists that a governmental entity cannot form the mens rea necessary for the underlying criminal act necessary to support a civil RICO claim. (Doc. # 49 at 30). Second, it argues that it is immune from punitive damages. (Id. at 31). Third, it asserts that the RICO claim under 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c) fails because Harpersville has been named as the RICO enterprise and a RICO defendant. (Id.).

         Plaintiff responds that the RICO claims are not due to be dismissed because “the evaluation of the threats [alleged in the Amended Complaint] is a factual issue.” (Doc. # 54 at 24). She insists that the fees charged by JCS cannot be considered “lawful” charges at this stage of the proceedings because she has alleged that the fees violated state law and federal constitutional law. (Id. at 25). And, she contends that JCS charged fees that were collected for its own benefit and not remitted to the state. (Id.). She claims that the Amended Complaint alleges Defendants' knowing participating in the scheme. (Id. at 26-27).

         After careful review, the court concludes that Plaintiff's RICO claims fail to plausibly plead predicate acts of racketeering activity or any violation of § 1962. Therefore, the RICO claims are due to be dismissed in their entirety.[4]

         1. Applicable Law to RICO Claims

         RICO provides a private cause of action for treble damages to persons injured in their business or property by reason of a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962. 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c). Section 1962 of Title 18 provides four types of criminal RICO violations. Section 1962(c) prohibits an individual from “participating in the conduct of the affairs of an enterprise engaged in interstate commerce, through a pattern of racketeering activity.” Almanza v. United Airlines, Inc., 851 F.3d 1060, 1066 (11th Cir. 2017). Section 1962(a) “prohibits investing income gained from a pattern of racketeering activity into such an enterprise.” Id. Section 1962(b) “makes it unlawful to invest income derived from a pattern of racketeering activity in an enterprise.” RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. European Cmty., 136 S.Ct. 2090, 2097 (2016). “Finally, § 1962(d) makes it unlawful to conspire to violate any of the other three prohibitions.” Id.

         A RICO enterprise “includes any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity.” 18 U.S.C. § 1961(5). Under RICO, “racketeering activity” includes such predicate acts as extortion under state law and the Hobbs Act. See 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1). “A pattern is established by at least two acts of racketeering activity the last which occurred within ten years . . . after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity.” Lehman v. Lucom, 727 F.3d 1326, 1330 (11th Cir. 2013) (quoting McCaleb v. A.O. Smith Corp., 200 F.3d 747, 750 (11th Cir. 2000) (ellipsis in original)). These predicate acts must be related to one another and demonstrate criminal conduct of a continuing nature. Jackson v. BellSouth Telecomms., 372 F.3d 1250, 1264 (11th Cir. 2004).

         A civil plaintiff must also show an injury to her business or property that occurred “by reason of” a substantive RICO violation. Id. (quoting Williams v. Mohawk Indus., Inc., 465 F.3d 1277, 1282-83 (11th Cir. 2006)). That is, a RICO plaintiff must demonstrate injuries that were proximately caused by a violation of that statute. Bivens Gardens Office Building, Inc. v. Barnett Banks of Fla., Inc., 140 F.3d 898, 906 (11th Cir. 1998). To prove proximate causation between a RICO violation and a subsequent injury, a plaintiff must present “some direct relation” between the alleged injurious conduct and the alleged injury. Williams, 465 F.3d at 1288.

         “The Supreme Court has made it crystal clear that the racketeering enterprise and the defendant must be two separate entities.” Ray, 836 F.3d at 1355. For example, a corporation and its officers, employees, or agents cannot constitute a RICO enterprise when the agents and employees are alleged to have acted within the scope of their responsibilities for the corporation. Id. at 1356-57.

         2. As a Matter of Law, Plaintiff Has Not Sufficiently Pled Predicate Acts of Hobbs Act or Travel Act Extortion

         Plaintiff's civil RICO claims against Defendants are based on predicate acts of extortion. (See Doc. # 6 at ¶¶ 341-60). Although Plaintiff alleges that Defendants committed extortion under Alabama state law, she offers no more than a conclusory allegation of state-law extortion in her First Amended Complaint. (See Id. at ¶ 354). To survive the motions to dismiss directed at her RICO claims, Plaintiff must adequately plead (i.e., in accordance with Twombly and Iqbal) a violation of the federal anti-extortion laws. Her attempts to do so fall woefully short.

         “In order to make out a civil RICO claim under the Hobbs Act, the plaintiff must allege that a defendant obstructed, delayed, or affected commerce (or attempted to do so), by robbery or extortion.” Frank v. Lake Worth Utilities, 464 F.App'x 802, 804 (11th Cir. 2012). Extortion is defined in the Hobbs Act as “the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.” 18 U.S.C. § 1951(b)(2). A defendant's action is “wrongful” if the defendant uses “a wrongful means to ...

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