My Journey To FMC Rochester

In August 2021, I pleaded guilty to wire fraud & was sentenced to 27 months in Federal prison.

Naturally, I was concerned about where I would be assigned to serve my sentence; I wanted to be close to home in Minneapolis, MN and assigned to a camp. Through my attorney I requested the camp in Duluth, MN. And while the judge does not control the final designation (the BOP does), the judge’s recommendation does carry some weight.

On September 10, 2021, my probation officer contacted me with good new. I was assigned to the camp in Duluth, MN. I felt some relief; Duluth is 150 miles north of Minneapolis, so visiting for my family would not be a hardship. Being assigned to a camp was also good news as folks I talked to through the While Collar Support Group said the camp was my best option.

I was thrown a big curve ball 2 weeks prior to my report date.

My PO contacted me to say that I would not be going to Duluth because of my medical condition (I had a pacemaker implant). It was frustrating this issue had not come up sooner. Here I was ready to report to Duluth and suddenly, the fact I have a pacemaker is going to impact where I would serve my time. For a week, I didn’t know where I would be reporting to and that created significant anxiety! Duluth is a Level 2 BOP medical facility, because of my pacemaker implant, the BOP determined I needed a Level 3 care facility.

Within a few days I was told by my PO I was designated to FMC Rochester, in Rochester, MN. This was a relief; Rochester is closer to my home than Duluth! Unfortunately, Rochester is not a camp, it is a medical facility, one of six in the BOP system. As my attorney said, Rochester has walls, fences, and razor wire. The camp in Duluth, as goes for all Camps, does not. I was fortunate to connect with someone who served their time at Rochester and was assured the facility was as good as any in the BOP (which isn’t saying much).

I reported to FMC Rochester on September 29, 2021, during the height of COVID. I was placed in isolation (with another guy) until I was able to present proof of having had my COVID shot. It was odd they didn’t check that prior to my reporting or inform me to bring proof with me. Within 8 days I was given the OK to enter the normal population.

During my time in Rochester, I did receive excellent care for my pacemaker, which was provided by the Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic is recognized as one of the leading health care facilities in the world. Many world leaders, politicians, entertainers, and other well recognized people have traveled to Mayo Clinic for treatment.

I have had my pacemaker since 2002 and have experienced zero issues. It did help me feel better, more stamina and less dizziness. One of the issues with a pacemaker is the battery needs to be checked quarterly. In Rochester, a tech from The Mayo Clinic would come to the BOP facility and perform the battery check. It was exactly like the process I had on the outside!

On my 2nd pace check in March 2022, the Tech noted that the battery life was rapidly deteriorating and would soon need replacement. On the outside, I had it replaced once and my doctor recommended replacement when the battery reached 6 months of life. BOP policy however dictates that the battery life must reach zero before they will replace it.

I was told by a doctor in the BOP my pacemaker had a 90-day reserve built into it. My doctor on the outside never told me this. This was unsettling. Would the BOP really gamble with my life to squeak a few more months from my pacemaker, when they knew the battery was about to expire?

The Cares Act added more uncertainty to my situation. I became eligible for home confinement under the Act in April 2022, but because my pacemaker battery needed to be replaced, I was put on a “medical hold”. When an inmate has a medical hold, they cannot be transferred or released until the medical hold is resolved.

It was a Catch-22. I wouldn’t be released to Home Confinement until I had my pacemaker battery replaced, and I couldn’t have my battery replaced until my current battery life registered zero.

Almost 2 months later, on June 2, I was taken to the Mayo Clinic and my pacemaker battery was finally replaced. I had a retired guard with me throughout the process (I guess so I wouldn’t try to escape, even though I was set to be released in 2 weeks)!

The BOP doesn’t tell you ahead of time when outside medical procedures will be performed. If you are lucky, you may find out the night before, or in the early morning, when they post the days “call outs”. I couldn’t tell my family when the procedure would take place and I couldn’t have any family or friends present at the Mayo Clinic. Although it’s a straightforward procedure, it would have been comforting to have family or friends there for me.

The after-care process was much less complicated. I believe the BOP, once they knew I was being released, paid less attention to my medical situation. On June 22, 2022, 3 weeks after my battery replacement, and 9 months since I had reported to FMC Rochester, I was released to home confinement.

Gregg J is a member of the Ministry’s White Collar Support Group that meets every Monday evening on Zoom.

We highly recommend Brent Cassity’s podcast, Nightmare Success, in which he interviews justice-impacted people from all walks of life. He is a White Collar Support Group member with a mission to be of service to our community. Please check it out on Spotify at or on your favorite podcast platform.