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United States v. Johnson

United States District Court, District of Columbia

July 22, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
Steven Johnson, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BERYL A. HOWELL Chief Judge.

         The defendant, Steven Johnson, was indicted, on July 14, 2016, for one count of unlawful possession with intent to distribute five hundred grams or more of cocaine, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B)(ii) and one count of using, carrying, and possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c)(1). Indictment at 1–2, ECF No. 3. At his post-indictment detention hearing held on July 18, 2016, the government’s oral motion to detain the defendant pending trial was granted, and the defendant’s motion for release from custody was denied. See Min. Entry (July 18, 2016). This Memorandum and Order sets out the findings and reasons for the defendant’s detention. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(i) (requiring that a detention order “include written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention”); see also United States v. Nwokoro, 651 F.3d 108, 109 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (noting that the Bail Reform Act requires pretrial detention order be supported by “‘a clear and legally sufficient basis for the court’s determination’” in written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention or in “‘the transcription of a detention hearing’” (quoting United States v. Peralta, 849 F.2d 625, 626 (D.C. Cir. 1988))) (per curiam).

         I. BACKGROUND AND FINDINGS

         At the detention hearing on July 18, 2016, the government proffered in support of its detention motion that, from approximately July 1–4, 2016, a confidential informant observed the defendant engaging in narcotics transactions at his residence, a single-family row house, located at 44119th Street N.E., Washington, D.C. The defendant would receive a phone call, go to the door of his residence, receive currency, return inside to the basement, retrieve what was believed to be crack cocaine, and then return to the door. The confidential informant also informed the authorities that the defendant possessed at least one firearm.

         On July 12, 2016, the Metropolitan Police executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence and the defendant answered and opened the door. The defendant informed the officers that he resided in the basement, information corroborated by his mother, who is the only other resident of the house. In the basement, the officers found an invoice or bill, which contained the defendant’s first and last name as well as the search warrant location address. In the upstairs area of the house, the officers found the defendant’s wallet with his driver’s license, which also listed the search warrant location address. Further, the government noted that law enforcement databases had this same address listed for the defendant based on his prior criminal history.

         Upon executing the search warrant, the officers recovered from the basement approximately two kilograms of cocaine, empty plastic bags, digital scales, gloves, a bullet-proof vest, approximately $185, 000 in cash, two semiautomatic rifles, firearm magazines for a B.B. gun rifle, and a gun magazine with a 100-round ammunition drum. The two rifles appeared to be loaded with ammunition and operable. The cocaine, valued between $20, 000 and $40, 000, and a portion of the cash were located in a safe, while the bullet-proof vest and B.B. gun rifle magazines were in plain view.

         Following his arrest on the same day as the execution of the search warrant, the defendant was ordered temporarily detained, at the government’s request, see Min. Entry (July 13, 2016), and was subsequently indicted.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         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, 719–20 (1990); see also United States v. Singleton, 182 F.3d 7, 9 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (“The Act establishes procedures for each form of release, as well as for temporary and pretrial detention.”). 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)(1). The judicial officer considering the propriety of pretrial detention must consider four factors:

(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense . . . involves . . . a controlled substance, [or] firearm;
(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, criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and . . . whether, at the time of the current offense or arrest, the person was on probation, on parole, or on other release pending trial, sentencing, appeal, or completion of sentence for an offense under Federal, State, or local law; and
(4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the ...

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