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United States v. Eccleston

United States District Court, D. Columbia

October 27, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
CHARLES HARVEY ECCLESTON, Defendant

          For CHARLES HARVEY ECCLESTON, Defendant: Carlos J. Vanegas, LEAD ATTORNEY, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER FOR D.C., Washington, DC.

         For USA, Plaintiff: Thomas A. Gillice, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Criminal Division, Washington, DC; Julie Ann Edelstein, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Washington, DC.

         MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

         RANDOLPH D. MOSS, United States District Judge.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Charles Harvey Eccleston's Motion to Modify Bond. Dkt. 10. Eccleston, who is currently detained, asks the Court to transfer him to the custody of the High Intensity Supervision Program administered in the Eastern District of Washington, in Yakima, Washington. Id. at 1. Eccleston explains that his brother James Eccleston, who lives in Seattle, is ill and that, if the Court were to transfer him to the Eastern District of Washington, he would be able to live with another brother, Kim Eccleston, and help run James's business when Kim travels to care for James. Id. at 2. The United States opposes the motion, arguing that Eccleston poses a danger to the public and a flight risk. Dkt. 12 at 1. The Court agrees and, accordingly, denies Eccleston's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Eccleston was indicted on April 23, 2015, and charged with attempting to access and cause damage to a protected computer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5)(A), (b), & (c)(4)(B); attempting to access a computer without authorization in order to obtain information in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(B), (b), & (c)(2)(B)(i); attempting to access a computer without authorization in order to defraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(4), (b), & (c)(3)(A); and committing wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. See Dkt. 6.

         In opposing Eccleston's Motion to Modify Bond, the government relies principally on the Affidavit of FBI Special Agent Lauren Gulotta (" Gulotta Affidavit" ), which was originally submitted in March 2015 in support of the Criminal Complaint and Arrest Warrant.[1] Dkt. 1. According to the Gulotta Affidavit, Eccleston is a scientist who previously worked for the Department of Energy (" DOE" ) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission" (" NRC" ). Dkt. 1-1 ¶ 15. On or about April 15, 2013, Eccleston entered the embassy of a foreign country in the Philippines and offered to sell purportedly classified e-mail addresses used for official correspondence between officials and employees of the " U.S. Energy Commission." Id. ¶ 14. When an FBI employee posing as an intelligence agent for the foreign country contacted Eccleston, Eccleston proceeded to develop an elaborate scheme to infect the e-mail accounts of dozens of DOE employees with a virus that would exfiltrate information from DOE servers and/or damage DOE computer systems. Id. ¶ ¶ 40-45. According to the government, on or about January 15, 2015, Eccleston sent as many as 80 e-mails that he believed contained a dangerous virus to DOE employees. Id. ¶ 118. He believed that he would be paid substantial amounts by the foreign country for his efforts. Id. ¶ 119. In addition, Eccleston met with an undercover FBI agent on several occasions and explained that he was motivated, at least in part, by his " frustration" and anger with the NRC. Id. ¶ 21, 40, 44.

         Eccleston, in turn, has not submitted declarations or other evidence in support of his Motion to Modify Bond, but his motion contains representations of counsel regarding Eccleston's desire to be released in order to assist his brothers James and Kim, both of whom currently reside in Washington State. Dkt. 10. Counsel represents that James is in " failing health" and that, if released, Eccleston could " help Kim run [James's] small used car business when Kim has to travel to care for their sick brother." Id. at 2. Counsel also represents that, if released, Eccleston could reside with Kim " at his residence in Yakima, Washington." Id. Finally, counsel reports that Eccleston has lived in Dallas, Texas and Richland, Washington for the majority of his life; that he lived briefly in Washington, D.C.; and that he moved to the Philippines in mid-2011, where his children still reside. Id. at 3. For present purposes, however, Eccleston has not otherwise contested the facts proffered by the government in opposing release.

         Following his arrest in the in the Philippines on March 27, 2015, Eccleston was presented in the Central District of California on May 4, 2015. Dkt. 8. At the government's request, a magistrate judge entered an order requiring Eccleston's pretrial detention, finding him both a danger to the public and a risk of flight. Dkt. 7 at 18-21. Eccleston was then brought to the District of Columbia, where he waived his right to a detention hearing and was ordered detained without bond. He now seeks pre-trial release subject to various conditions. Dkt. 10.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Framework

         " In our society liberty is the norm, and detention prior to trial or without trial is the carefully limited exception." United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755, 107 S.Ct. 2095, 95 L.Ed.2d 697 (1987). The Bail Reform Act of 1984 (the " Act" ), 18 U.S.C. § 3142 et seq., outlines the circumstances under which a defendant may be detained before trial. As relevant here, the Act directs the Court to order pretrial detention when it 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)(1). It further directs the Court to consider four factors in determining whether a defendant poses a risk of flight or danger to the public:

(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is a ...

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