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United States v. Gamble

United States District Court, District of Columbia

December 17, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
LAWRENCE GAMBLE, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge

         Pending before the Court is Defendant Lawrence Gamble's Motion to Revoke Detention Order, ECF No. 21. Mr. Gamble previously opposed his detention at the preliminary detention hearing and further filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision to detain him. He now challenges his detention for a third time and requests that this Court order his release on appropriate conditions. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions, [1] relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court shall DENY Mr. Gamble's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Indictment charges Mr. Gamble with three counts: conspiracy to obstruct justice under 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(1), (c)(2), (k); obstruction of justice in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(1), (c)(2); and obstruction of enforcement of 18 U.S.C. § 1591 (which prohibits sex trafficking of children by force, fraud, or coercion) in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(d). Indictment, ECF No. 17. Mr. Gamble was first arrested on May 17, 2019. See Complaint, ECF No. 1; May 17, 2019 Arrest Warrant, ECF No. 4. Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey held a preliminary detention hearing on May 21 and May 22, 2019. See May 21, 2019 and May 22, 2019 Minute Orders. Magistrate Judge Harvey found that Mr. Gamble had not rebutted the presumption of dangerousness and that the relevant factors weighed heavily against his release; he therefore ordered Mr. Gamble detained prior to trial. See May 31, 2019 Detention Memorandum (“First Detention Order”), ECF No. 7.

         Mr. Gamble then moved to reconsider Magistrate Judge Harvey's Pretrial Detention Order on September 6, 2019. Def.'s Mot. to Recons. Pretrial Detention Order, ECF No. 13. He contested that he presented a danger to the community. Id. at 5. Magistrate Judge Harvey held a hearing on this motion on September 27, 2019 and denied Mr. Gamble's motion. See Sept. 27, 2019 Minute Order. As the magistrate judge explained in the relevant Minute Order, Mr. Gamble largely reiterated his prior arguments and advanced only one new argument that Mr. Gamble had a possibility of employment if he was released. See Sept. 30, 2017 Minute Order (“Second Detention Order”). However, this did not change the magistrate judge's conclusion that Mr. Gamble posed a danger to the community due to the nature of his charges, and the new evidence accordingly did not change the magistrate judge's initial determination. See Id. Mr. Gamble now challenges his pretrial detention for a third time.

         In his current Motion, Mr. Gamble does not appear to contest the evidence presented at the preliminary detention hearing held in front of Magistrate Judge Harvey, other than to discount the credibility of the witnesses because “the testimony against Mr. Gamble was given under immunity and that at least one of the witnesses lied.” Def.'s Mot. to Revoke at 2. The Court addresses these concerns below. Otherwise, as Mr. Gamble does not contest the findings of fact made by the magistrate judge, the Court will incorporate and repeat certain of those findings here.

         In short, Mr. Gamble's case is related to another case in this Court in which Rodregiz Antwon Cole is charged with the sex trafficking of a child by force, fraud, or coercion in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a). When law enforcement executed a search warrant on Mr. Cole's residence on April 11, 2019, they found Mr. Gamble and one of the witnesses, Witness 1, standing near a Toyota Avalon that belonged to Mr. Gamble and was parked outside the residence. First Detention Order at 3. Mr. Gamble and others appeared to be packing Mr. Cole's belongings into the Avalon. Id. Mr. Gamble gave permission for the vehicle to be searched. Id. Inside the vehicle, law enforcement found bags that contained items with evidentiary value. Id. This included “pimp-related clothing and other items, such as a pimp cup and a 2018 Pimp of the Year trophy.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). It also contained vehicle tags for a gray Lexus registered to Witness 1 that was also parked outside the residence. Id. Investigators later discovered that Mr. Gamble had called a tow track to remove the Lexus and a BMW also parked in front of the residence. Id.

         Investigators also found a critical piece of evidence in the Avalon: A sonogram “was found in the center console of Defendant's Toyota Avalon.” Id. The sonogram is important because it contained the true name and birth date of a woman referred to as K.M., who represented herself as an underage victim of sex trafficking when she was stopped by local law enforcement on April 5, 2019. Id. at 2. When interviewed by law enforcement at the scene, Mr. Gamble denied putting Mr. Cole's property in his car and denied any knowledge of the sonogram. Id. at 3.

         Witness 1, who was a childhood friend of Mr. Cole's and who had a child by him, began cooperating in return for immunity the same day. Id. Witness 1 explained that Mr. Cole had called her to remove his property from his residence in Baltimore and to enlist the help of Mr. Gamble, whom she understood to be a close friend of Mr. Cole's. Id. at 3-4. Call records demonstrate that Witness 1 first communicated with Mr. Gamble on April 7, 2019, and spoke with him again on April 8, 2019. Id. at 4. Witness 1 also stated that Mr. Gamble “told her about the sonogram, when in an early phone conversation he said that he had gone to the Baltimore residence in part to look for the document.” Id. She denied ever seeing the sonogram or having knowledge about it being in Mr. Gamble's Avalon. Id. In fact, in a recorded call on April 9, 2019, Witness 1 asked Mr. Cole about the sonogram and stated that Mr. Gamble had told her about it. Id.

         Another witness, Witness 2, also cooperated in return for immunity. Id. at 5. Witness 2 identified herself as a prostitute for Mr. Cole who had shared a bedroom with K.M. Id. Witness 2 explained that she and Witness 3 had gone to the Baltimore residence to look for K.M. Id. After they returned, Witness 3 allowed three men, including Mr. Gamble, into the residence. Id. Mr. Gamble ordered Witness 2 and Witness 3 “to give him the money they had made that morning, pack their belongings, and leave.” Id.

         The magistrate judge also found that Mr. Gamble had one prior felony conviction for attempted robbery from 2006 and a series of misdemeanors and other violations, including for marijuana possession and driving without a license. Id.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3142 et seq., if a judicial officer finds after a hearing 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, ” that officer “shall order the detention of the person before trial.” Id. § 3142(e)(1). Here, Magistrate Judge Harvey found that Mr. Gamble rebutted the presumption as to risk of flight. The Court agrees with Magistrate Judge Harvey's reasoning and conclusion on this point and adopts them here. Consequently, the Court must only consider whether the “safety of any other person and the community” can be assured. See Id. There must be “clear and convincing” evidence of dangerousness to support a finding under this prong. Id. § 3142(f). “The default position of the law, therefore, is that a defendant should be released pending trial.” United States v. Stone, 608 F.3d 939, 945 (6th Cir. 2010).

         “That default is modified, however, for certain, particularly dangerous defendants.” Id. The Act creates a rebuttable presumption of dangerousness if “there is probable cause to believe that the” defendant committed, for instance, “an offense under chapter 77 of this title for which a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years or more is prescribed.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(D). A grand jury indictment alone is “enough to raise the rebuttable presumption that no condition would reasonably assure the safety of the community.” United States v. Smith, 79 F.3d 1208, 1210 (D.C. Cir. 1996). The Indictment against Mr. Gamble charges him with a violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 1591(d), ECF No. 17 at 2, which, as Magistrate Judge Harvey ...


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