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United States v. Muschetta

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 5, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
DEMETRIUS MUSCHETTA, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BERYL A. HOWELL, District Judge.

Defendants Andre Arrington, Kyree Mitchell and Myron Williams have been indicted, along with eleven co-defendants, with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute varying amounts of heroin and cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. See Indictment, Count One, ECF No. 1.[1] Following detention hearings before Magistrate Judges, each of these defendants was ordered to be held pending trial, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142. See Detention Mem. as to Kyree Mitchell ("Mitchell Detention Mem."), July 13, 2015, ECF No. 38; Detention Mem. as to Andre Arrington ("Arrington Detention Mem."), July 13, 2015, ECF No. 36; Detention Mem. as to Myron Williams ("Williams Detention Mem."), August 3, 2015, ECF No. 58. Pending before the Court are motions by these three defendants to appeal their detention orders, under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b), see Mot. for Reconsideration of Detention of Def. Andre Arrington ("Arrington Mot."), ECF No. 41; Def. Kyree Mitchell's Mot. to Reconsider Detention Order ("Mitchell Mot."), ECF No. 46; Def. Myron Williams Appeal of Magistrate's Detention Order ("Williams Mot."), ECF No. 47, which motions are opposed by the government, see Gov't Omnibus Opp'n to Appeal from the Magistrate's Detention Order & Mots. to Reconsider Detention Orders Filed by Defs. Myron Williams, Andre Arrington, & Kyree Mitchell ("Gov't Opp'n"), ECF No. 55. Upon consideration of the information set out in these motions, supporting memoranda of law, and presented at the motions hearing on August 4, 2015, for the reasons stated in open court and outlined below, the defendants' motions for pretrial release are denied.

This Memorandum Opinion sets forth the "written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(i)(1); cf. United States v. Peralta, 849 F.2d 625, 626 (D.C. Cir. 1988) (per curiam) (finding "the transcription of a detention hearing, if it evinces a clear and legally sufficient basis for the court's determination, will satisfy the requirements of section 3142(i)" notwithstanding "the mandatory nature of section 3142(i)"); United States v. Nwokoro, 651 F.3d 108, 111 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (per curiam) (remanding detention order upon finding that transcript of detention hearing "failed... to adequately memorialize [the district court's] determination").

I. BACKGROUND

The charges in this case arise from an approximately six-month investigation into illegal narcotics trafficking in the Barnaby Terrace neighborhood in Southeast, Washington, D.C. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement officers employed multiple investigative techniques, including court-authorized wiretaps from February 10, 2015 through May 29, 2015, "pen registers, pole cameras, physical surveillance, stops, seizures, and search warrants." Gov't Opp'n at 4. As detailed below, each defendant, who is now seeking review of a Magistrate Judge's detention order and requesting pretrial release, was intercepted during the wiretap phase of the investigation, as well as surveilled allegedly participating in activities facilitating the charged narcotics distribution and possession with intent to distribute conspiracy. In addition, execution of search warrants at the residences of defendants Andre Arrington and Kyree Mitchell uncovered evidence of firearms possession, illegal narcotics and narcotics trafficking paraphernalia. Overall, the government proffered at the motions hearing that this investigation has resulted in the seizure of over four kilograms of heroin, as well as powder cocaine, crack cocaine and multiple firearms. See Rough Transcript of Detention Hearing (Aug. 4, 2015) ("Detention Hearing Trans.") at 54:9-12.

On June 18, 2015, the Grand Jury returned the Indictment in this case charging fourteen defendants, including Messrs. Arrington, Mitchell, and Williams, in Count One with Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute One Kilogram or More of Heroin, and Cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. Indictment at 1-6. The Indictment also charges Mr. Williams in Count Twelve with Conspiracy Involving a Firearm and Drug Trafficking Crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(o). Id. at 11. Thereafter, starting on June 25, 2015, the government executed arrest and search warrants, resulting in searches of the residences of Messrs. Arrington, Mitchell and Williams and other co-defendants. See Arrest Warrants, ECF Nos. 4, 6, 14.

At the detention hearing for Mr. Williams, on June 29, 2015, United States Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson granted the government's detention request, concluding by clear and convincing evidence that this defendant failed to rebut the presumption that no condition or combination of conditions could be imposed to reasonably assure the safety of the community.[2] Williams Detention Mem. at 4. The next day, June 30, 2015, at detention hearings for Messrs. Arrington and Mitchell, United States Magistrate Judge Alan Kay likewise granted the government's detention request, concluding by clear and convincing evidence that these defendants failed to rebut the presumption that no condition or combination of conditions could be imposed to reasonably assure the safety of the community, and held them without bail. Arrington Detention Mem. at 9; Mitchell Detention Mem. at 7. A hearing on the motions of these three defendants for reconsideration of the Magistrate Judges' detention orders and for pretrial release was held on August 4, 2015. These motions are now ripe for resolution.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

"A motion under 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b) for review of a magistrate judge's detention order requires the Court promptly to examine de novo whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community." United States v. Sheffield, 799 F.Supp.2d 18, 19-20 (D.D.C. 2011); see 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b). "The Court is free to use in its analysis any evidence or reasons relied on by the magistrate judge, but it may also hear additional evidence and rely on its own reasons." Id. at 20 (quoting United States v. Hanson, 613 F.Supp.2d 85, 88 (D.D.C. 2009)); see also United States v. Anderson, 384 F.Supp.2d 32, 33 (D.D.C. 2005); United States v. Karni, 298 F.Supp.2d 129, 130 (D.D.C. 2004) ( citing United States v. Hudspeth, 143 F.Supp.2d 32, 35-36 (D.D.C. 2001)).

The Bail Reform Act of 1984 provides a "regulatory device... to provide fair bail procedures while protecting the safety of the public and assuring the appearance at trial of defendants found likely to flee." United States v. Montalvo-Murillo, 495 U.S. 711, 719-720 (1990). Under the Bail Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3141 et seq., a judicial officer "shall order" a defendant's detention before trial if, after a hearing, "the judicial officer finds that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community." Id. § 3142(e). The judicial officer considering the propriety of pretrial detention must consider four factors:

(1) [t]he nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense... involves... a controlled substance;
(2) the weight of evidence against the person;
(3) the history and characteristics of the person, including... the person's character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, ...

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