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United States v. Hunt

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 28, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
RONALD HUNT, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge

         On November 1, 2016, defendant Ronald Hunt was indicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base, cocaine, and 100 grams or more of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846 (Count I), and one count of unlawful possession with intent to distribute twenty-eight grams or more of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C § 841 (Count V). Indictment [Dkt. # 1]. He was arrested on November 4, 2016. Arrest Warrant [Dkt. # 3]. On November 4, 2016, the government filed a motion for pretrial detention. Government Mem. in Supp. of Detention [Dkt. # 4] ("Gov't Detention Mem."). A hearing was held on November 7, 2016, Min. Entry (Nov. 7, 2016), and the Magistrate Judge issued a written opinion on November 8, 2016 ordering defendant Hunt to be held without bond. Detention Mem. [Dkt. #7], Pursuant to 18 U.S.C § 3145(b), defendant Hunt filed a motion on December 22, 2016 seeking a modification of the Magistrate Judge's decision to detain him pending trial. Mot. for Bond Modification [Dkt. # 10] ("Def'sMot"). The government opposed the motion, Government Mem. in Opp. to Def's Mot. [Dkt. # 11] ("Gov't Opp.''), and after hearing from the parties at a status conference at which defendant also made a request for new counsel, the Court took the motion under advisement and invited both sides to submit additional information. Min. Entry (Jan. 6, 2017); Min. Order (Jan. 6, 2017). On February 3, 2017, after defendant had obtained new counsel, he filed a second motion for bond modification. Def.'s Second Mot. for Bond Modification [Dkt. # 15] ("Def.'s Second Mot."). The government filed a notice of opposition to defendant's second motion, relying on arguments it made in its first opposition. Government's Notice of Opp. to Def.'s Second Mot. [Dkt. # 17].

         The Court has considered the relevant law, the facts presented in the indictment, the motions and opposition, the evidence presented at the hearings, the information provided by the Pretrial Services Agency, as well as the statements and arguments of counsel. Based on the record before it at this time, the Court finds by clear and convincing evidence that there is no condition or combination of conditions that will reasonably assure the safety of the community if defendant is released. Therefore, after consideration of all of the factors set forth in section 3142(g), the Court orders that defendant Hunt shall be detained pending trial.

         BACKGROUND

         At the hearing and in pleadings filed before the Court, the government proceeded by proffer based on the indictment. The defense offered no contrary evidence. Accordingly, the Court makes the following findings of fact:

         I. Interceptions

         Over the course of the government's investigation, law enforcement received authority to intercept communications involving three phones used by defendants Marvin Carpenter and Ronald Hunt, and intercepted communications in which they made numerous references to drug trafficking. For example, on May 3, 2015, Carpenter and Hunt arranged to sell approximately 125 grams of cocaine for more than $5, 000. Although Carpenter spoke directly to the buyer, he directed the buyer to Hunt by providing the buyer with Hunt's phone number and location. And Hunt later called Carpenter and indicated that the deal had been completed.

         The interceptions also show that Hunt regularly distributed cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, sometimes doing it himself or using runners. For example, on July 20, 2016, Hunt called one of his runners and asked, "Got a white boy outside the gate, right?" An unidentified male said, "Yeah." Hunt replied, "Give him three 20's for $50." The next day, Hunt sent a text message concerning a transaction: "I can go 90 a g for you." And on July 29, 2016, a customer asked Hunt to bring his scale with him to their meeting.

         Other intercepted communications reveal Hunt's desire to obtain a handgun. For instance, on July 20, 2016, Hunt received a message from an individual stating his intention to "bring you that Glock for free." The next day, the same individual asked Hunt if he wanted the serial number removed from the weapon. Defendant repeatedly indicated that he wanted the handgun, but he was prevented from obtaining it through FBI intervention.

         II. Controlled Purchases

         Beginning in June 2015, the FBI made a series of controlled purchases from an individual alleged to be Hunt's co-conspirator. These purchases produced a total of 140 grams of heroin, bought in increments of approximately 28 grams.

         III. Arrest

         On July 8, 2016, Hunt was arrested by Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officers and charged with unlawful entry for violating a Superior Court order to stay away from Potomac Gardens. In a search incident to arrest, officers recovered approximately thirty grams of a white-rock substance and four zip containers of suspected heroin, which both field tested positive for cocaine-base. Lab tests have since determined that the white substance was actually heroin.

         Officers also recovered the phone that had been intercepted on the wiretaps. The phone was returned to Hunt upon his release from Superior Court, and he continued to use it in communications similar to those described above.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3142 et seq., provides that if a judicial officer finds by clear and convincing evidence 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, such judicial officer shall order the detention of the person before trial." 18 U.S.C. §§ 3142(e)(1), (f)(2)(g). Even if defendant does not pose a flight risk, danger to the community alone is a sufficient reason to order pretrial detention. United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 754-55 (1987); United States v. Simpkins, 826 F.2d 94, 98 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

         Congress also specified in the Bail Reform Act that a judicial finding that there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed certain offenses - including an offense for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed under the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq - gives rise to a rebuttable presumption that no pretrial condition ...


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