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United States v. Logan

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 25, 2018

Jonathan Logan Defendant.


          Emmet G. Sullivan United States District Judge.

         In 2013, Jonathan McCoy Logan pleaded guilty to drug and gun related offenses in two criminal cases, and was sentenced to an agreed-upon 147 months of incarceration pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea. Several months after he was sentenced, the government informed Mr. Logan that a Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) Special Agent who was involved in the execution of the search warrant attendant to his arrest had tampered with evidence in other criminal cases. Mr. Logan now moves to vacate his convictions and sentences under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 based on: (1) the information provided about that FBI agent; and (2) an alleged technical error in his sentencing.

         For the reasons that follow, Mr. Logan's motions to vacate his convictions and sentences are DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         In September of 2010 the FBI began investigating a network of drug trafficking that stretched from Maryland to Washington D.C.[1] See Factual Proffer (“Proffer”), ECF No. 461 at 1.[2] As a result of its investigation, which included extensive physical and electronic surveillance, the FBI identified several individuals who would later be indicted on various drug conspiracy charges. Id. at 1-2.

         One of those indicted individuals was Jonathon McCoy Logan. The investigation revealed that, on several occasions, from at least September 2010 to October 21, 2011, Mr. Logan sold cocaine to another indicted individual, Kelvin Heyward. Id. at 2-3. Wire-tapped calls between the two showed that they would coordinate these sales of cocaine at public locations. Id. at 3. These calls captured the details of specific drug transactions, as well as how the transactions were generally conducted. Id.

         The transactions came to an end on October 21, 2011, when Mr. Logan was arrested during a drug deal. Id. at 5-6. The deal commenced when Mr. Logan called another customer, Archie Kinney, to set up a meeting later that day. Id. at 5. At approximately 4:25 pm, Mr. Logan pulled into a shopping center parking lot in Capitol Heights, Maryland and Mr. Kinney entered the parking lot shortly after. Id. at 6. The two men parked their vehicles adjacent to each other. Id. Mr. Logan next entered Mr. Kinney's car and sold him narcotics. Id. After the sale, Mr. Logan exited Mr. Kinney's car and began to back out of the parking lot. Id. At that point, Prince George's County Police Department officers arrived on the scene and arrested Mr. Logan. Id. The officers then searched Mr. Logan as a result of the arrest and uncovered a .32 semi-automatic handgun along with over $14, 000. Id. The officers next searched Mr. Logan's vehicle finding $4, 000 and several plastic bags containing cocaine. Id. at 6-7.

         Mr. Logan was charged in two separate criminal cases based on: (1) the evidence accumulated during the investigation; and (2) the evidence seized during the October 21, 2011 arrest. The surveillance evidence gave rise to the indictment filed on March 8, 2012, charging Mr. Logan with one Count of Conspiracy to Distribute and Possess with Intent to Distribute 5 Kilograms or More of Cocaine and 280 Grams or More of Cocaine Base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(c). See Superseding Indictment, ECF No. 12. The October 2011 arrest, and subsequent car search, gave rise to an August 2013 indictment in Maryland, later transferred to this district, which charged Mr. Logan with, among other things, Conspiracy to Distribute and Possession with Intent to Distribute 500 Grams or More of Cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C); and Using and Carrying a Firearm During and in Relation to a Drug Trafficking Crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). See Criminal Action No. 13-248, Indictment, ECF No. 1-1.[3]

         Mr. Logan was arrested at his place of business, the All-In-One Stop in Clinton, Maryland, following the filing of the March 8, 2012 superseding indictment. See Arrest Warrant Returned Executed, ECF No. 34. That same day, a team of FBI agents executed a search warrant at the All-In-One Stop; the presence of one agent, Special Agent (“SA”) Matthew Lowry, is relevant to Mr. Logan's collateral attack on his plea and sentence.

         According to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia (“USAO-DC”), the investigation that resulted in Mr. Logan's indictment was conducted by the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force. Notice, ECF No. 563 at 1. SA Lowry was assigned to a different task force -- the Cross-Border Task Force (“CBTF”)--but he “provided some assistance to the overall investigation at the time of the ‘take-down' in March 2012.” Id. Specifically, SA Lowry participated in the execution of the search warrant at the All-In-One Stop which led to the seizure of several items.[4] Criminal Action No. 13-248, Gov't. Response to Def. Ltr. to Court, ECF No. 18 at 1-2. According to the USAO-DC, SA Lowry was not listed on the chain-of-custody for any of the items seized from the All-In-One Stop. Id. at 2.

         On October 1, 2014 the FBI informed USAO-DC that “Special Agent Lowry may have engaged in misconduct by tampering with evidence . . . includ[ing] tampering with narcotics and firearm evidence seized during investigations.” Notice, ECF No. 563 at 1-2. USAO-DC soon after informed the Court that a criminal investigation was being conducted into SA Lowry's misconduct. Id. USAO-DC explained that it was recused from the FBI investigation, but that it believed that SA Lowry's misconduct would not have an impact on the defendants in the case because “of [SA Lowry's] limited role in the overall investigation.” Id. at 2.

         The FBI's investigation into SA Lowry's misconduct was prompted by the discovery of SA Lowry under the influence of drugs in an FBI vehicle on September 29, 2014. The investigation revealed that SA Lowry began to remove FBI drug evidence in “late 2013.” See Criminal Action No. 13-248, Mem. Of Investigation, ECF No. 40-1 at 20.[5] He admitted to “taking a small amount of [narcotics] prior to packaging and processing the evidence” in an unrelated case. Id. SA Lowry admitted to using drugs from “late 2013 when he began, through September 29, 2014, when he was found [under the influence] in his FBI-issued vehicle.” Id. SA Lowry was charged with, among other things, possession of heroin. See Criminal Action No. 15-34, Judgment in a Criminal Case (“Judgment”), ECF No. 30. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 36 months of incarceration. Id.

         B. Procedural History

         On August 29, 2013, over a year before SA Lowry's misconduct came to light, Mr. Logan pleaded guilty before this Court to two drug conspiracy offenses and to one gun-related offense. One of the drug conspiracy offenses was in connection with the narcotics he sold Mr. Heyward for which he was indicted in Criminal Action No. 12-59, and the other was in connection to the drugs recovered from his car during his October arrest which led to the indictment in Criminal Action No. 13-248. See Proffer, ECF No. 461. The third offense was for using and carrying a firearm during a drug trafficking offense, also in connection to his October arrest. See Criminal Action No. 13-248, Proffer, ECF No. 3 at 6. The parties agreed to a 147-month term of incarceration pursuant to an 11(c)(1)(C) plea. See Addendum to Plea Agreement, ECF No. 527 at 1. On April 17, 2014, this Court sentenced Mr. Logan to a concurrent sentence of 87 months on the two conspiracy drug offenses, and a consecutive sentence of 60 months for the firearm offense for a total of 147 months consistent with the agreed-upon sentence. See Sentencing Hr'g Tr., ECF No. 627 at 35.

         In November 2014 the government disclosed to Mr. Logan the information about SA Lowry's alleged wrongdoing. Notice, ECF No. 563 at 1. The Court then directed the government to file status reports regularly with the Court with updates on the status of the government's investigation into Mr. Lowry's alleged misconduct. Minute Order of November 13, 2014. The government explained SA Lowry's role in Mr. Logan's case as follows:

[G]overnment counsel understands that Agent Lowry's involvement in the investigation . . . involved assisting in a large-scale "takedown" on March 12, 2012, specifically the execution of one search warrant on March 12, 2012, in Clinton, Maryland. Agent Lowry participated along with a team of other FBI agents in executing a search warrant at defendant Jonathan Logan's business location. . . . Agent Lowry was not listed on the chain-of-custody for any of the items seized from this location.

Criminal Action No. 13-248, Gov't. Response to Def. Ltr. to Court, ECF No. 18 at 1-2. The government also made clear that the only event in which SA Lowry participated in Mr. Logan's case--the execution of the search warrant on March 12, 2012-- occurred five months after October 21, 2011, which was the ending date of the drug conspiracy with which Mr. Logan was charged. Id. Similarly, the proffer of facts explained that the gun seizure occurred during the ...

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