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United States v. Chapa

United States District Court, D. Columbia

October 30, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
ALEJANDRO CHAPA, Defendant

          For ALEJANDRO CHAPA, Defendant: Diane S. Lepley, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICES OF DIANE S. LEPLEY, Washington, DC.

         For USA, Plaintiff: Barry Wiegand, James Stephen Sweeney, LEAD ATTORNEYS, William John O'Malley, Jr., U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC; George Peter Eliopoulos, LEAD ATTORNEY, Zia Mustafa Faruqui, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC; Thomas A. Gillice, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Criminal Division, Washington, DC.

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         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court is Defendant Alejandro Chapa's [286] Motion to Compel Additional Discovery and Chapa's [314] Renewed Motion to Compel Discovery. Chapa requests that this Court compel the Government to produce certain evidence that is related to the investigation of FBI Special Agent Matthew Lowry and/or to the instant action. Upon a searching review of the parties' submissions,[1] the relevant authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court shall grant Chapa's request for discovery only as to certain information related to the 13 seized packages, 12 of which later tested positive for heroin and 1 of which tested positive for a heroin derivative. Accordingly, the Court shall GRANT IN PART and DENY IN PART Chapa's [286] Motion to Compel Additional Discovery and GRANT IN PART and DENY IN PART Chapa's [314] Renewed Motion to Compel Discovery for the reasons described herein.

         

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         I. BACKGROUND

         On May 31, 2012, a federal grand jury indicted Chapa and 19 other codefendants in connection with an alleged conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Indictment (May 31, 2012), ECF No. [25]. Pursuant to the indictment, Chapa was charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and 28 grams or more of cocaine base (21 U.S.C. § 846). On January 22, 2013, Chapa pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine and one kilogram or more of heroin (21 U.S.C. § § 846 & 841(a)(1) & (b)(1)(A)). On June 5, 2014, the Court sentenced Chapa to a term of imprisonment of 60 months. Chapa did not appeal his sentence and conviction, and currently is serving the term of imprisonment.

         On November 25, 2014, the Government filed a Notice, indicating that the investigation resulting in Chapa's indictment and subsequent conviction was conducted by members of the Transnational Organized Crime Squad of the Washington Field Office of the FBI, who were assisted on at least one occasion by Special Agent Matthew Lowry, a member of the Cross Border Task Force of the Washington Field Office of the FBI. Govt.'s Notice of Filing ¶ 3, ECF No. [282]. The Government explained that an investigation had been initiated regarding allegations that Special Agent Lowry tampered with evidence, including narcotics evidence, and mishandled firearms seized during investigations. Id. ¶ 4. The Notice indicated that while the investigation related to Special Agent Lowry was in its early stages, at that time the Government believed that any misconduct by Special Agent Lowry would have no impact on this action because of Lowry's limited role in the lengthy investigation. Id. ¶ 5. The Government also submitted to the Court and to Chapa through counsel a letter with attachments concerning the nature of Special Agent Lowry's alleged misconduct. Id. ¶ 6.

         On December 5, 2014, Chapa filed a Response to Notice of Filing and Motion to Compel Additional Discovery. Specifically, Chapa sought information related to Special Agent Lowry's role in the instant action, " including everything he signed, witnessed, planned, or participated in," as well as " [a]ll related documents, including chain of custody on every drug to which he had access . . . along with the 302 reports." Resp. to Notice for Filing & Mot. to Compel Add'l Discovery ¶ 5, ECF No. [286]. On December 16, 2014, after the Court entered a Protective Order, the Government provided to counsel a second letter and 18 attachments related to the Lowry investigation. See Notice of Mat. Provided to Def. Counsel, ECF No. [294]. On December 19, 2014, the Government filed a Response to Chapa's Motion to Compel, requesting that the Court deem the motion moot in light of the fact that the Government provided additional materials to defense counsel and based on anticipated future productions pursuant to the Protective Order. See Govt.'s Resp. to Def.'s Mot., ECF No. [295]. On December 23, 2014, Chapa filed a Reply indicating that the request was not moot because the Government had not yet produced documents specifically related to the instant action. Def.'s Reply to Govt.'s Resp. ¶ 3, ECF No. [296]. Rather, Chapa requested that the Court hold his motion to compel in abeyance until Chapa provided the Government with a list of requested items. Id. ¶ 5.

         Chapa subsequently filed a [314] Renewed Motion to Compel Discovery, requesting that the Court order the Government to provide certain discovery as requested by Chapa and indicating that the Government had stopped producing additional discovery after Special Agent Lowry entered a guilty plea. In support

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of his motion, Chapa included two lists provided to the Government and one e-mail requesting discovery information. See Def.'s Renewed Mot., Ex. A, ECF No. [314-1]; id., Ex. B, ECF No. [314-2]. The ...


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