The opinion of the court was delivered by: BECHTLE
Defendants were found guilty by a jury of all the charges contained in a four-count indictment alleging violations of federal narcotic and dangerous drug laws. John Hudson was charged in three counts of the indictment with knowingly and intentionally distributing a controlled substance (methamphetamine), in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Together with his brother, Bobby Hudson, John was charged in a separate count with conspiring to distribute the methamphetamine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. In addition to the conspiracy count, Bobby Hudson was charged in one of the substantive counts with distribution of methamphetamine. Both defendants have filed motions for arrest of judgment,
judgment of acquittal or a new trial. For the reasons stated herein, all of the motions will be denied.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
By their motions for judgment of acquittal, both defendants have challenged the sufficiency of the Government's evidence to support the jury's verdict of guilty. In examining the evidence, our task is a limited one. We neither weigh evidence nor judge the credibility of witnesses. These are matters for the jury. We consider only whether, viewing the evidence and the reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom in the light most favorable to the Government, it would permit the jury to find guilt established beyond a reasonable doubt. United States v. Greenlee, 517 F.2d 899, 902-903 (3d Cir.), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 985, 96 S. Ct. 391, 46 L. Ed. 2d 301 (1975).
The case against Bobby Hudson was less clear-cut. The Government's theory at trial was that Bobby joined the conspiracy on or about December 9, 1974, the date of the last transaction between Calhoun and Kean. According to Calhoun, when John Hudson arrived at her residence on that day to drive her to the location where the drugs were to be passed, he was accompanied by Bobby Hudson. When she entered the automobile, John introduced Bobby as his brother and stated that Bobby would go with her into the house where the transaction was to take place for her protection. John also told Calhoun, while in the car, that he had the "package" with him and they discussed the price to be charged in the presence of Bobby. Bobby Hudson did not participate in this conversation.
Upon entering the house that was the prearranged location for the sale, Bobby Hudson was introduced by Calhoun to the other participants in the transaction as a friend of hers and he followed the others into the kitchen of the house. Bobby did not engage in any conversation until the methamphetamine was being passed in the kitchen. At this time, both Kean and Calhoun testified that Kean asked Bobby if the drugs were of good quality and Bobby replied that he had tasted them and that they were good. Shortly thereafter, with all of the parties still present, money was passed to Calhoun. She, Bobby Hudson and another coconspirator were then immediately arrested.
There was no evidence that Bobby Hudson ever touched the drugs or the money involved in the transaction on December 9, 1974. Calhoun testified that she had not expected John Hudson to be accompanied by anyone that day and that, as far as she was concerned, it was not necessary for another person to be present for the transaction to take place. Calhoun further testified that the transaction would have gone forward whether Bobby Hudson was present or not.
Relying primarily upon United States v. Baker, 499 F.2d 845 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 1071, 95 S. Ct. 659, 42 L. Ed. 2d 667 (1974), Bobby Hudson contends that the evidence does not support a finding of his guilty participation in the conspiracy. This Court has previously recognized "the firmly established legal precept that evidence of mere presence at the scene of a crime is insufficient to prove guilty participation." United States v. Ackridge, 370 F. Supp. 214, 218 (E.D.Pa. 1973), aff'd mem., 500 F.2d 1399, 1400 (3d Cir. 1974). However, viewing the evidence most favorably to the Government, the case against Bobby Hudson is clearly stronger than that against defendant Vela in United States v. Baker, supra. Vela was present in his own apartment while a discussion concerning the purchase of drugs was taking place. There was no evidence that Vela participated in that discussion. Nor was there any evidence that Vela participated in a similar conversation the following evening. While the evidence showed that Vela drove a codefendant and another individual to a motel where the sale of some "reds" was consummated, there was no evidence that Vela participated in either the conversation or the transaction. The court held, over a strong dissent by Judge (now Justice) Stevens, that there was insufficient evidence to establish that Vela had knowledge of and associated himself with the criminal conspiracy or intended to participate in it.
In contrast to Baker, the evidence in this case not only places Bobby in the room where the transaction was taking place while the drugs were visible on a table, but, significantly, it shows Bobby responding to a question put to him by the prospective purchaser concerning the quality of the drugs. This is in addition to Calhoun's testimony that Bobby Hudson was present while she and John Hudson discussed the price to be charged for the methamphetamine and when John stated that Bobby would accompany her for her protection. In the face of a guilty verdict, only "slight" evidence is required to link a particular defendant to an established conspiracy. United States v. Hopkins, 518 F.2d 152, 156 (3d Cir. 1975). The evidence in this case was sufficient to fairly support the conclusion, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Bobby Hudson knew of the conspiracy and associated himself with it. The jury's verdict was a proper one. See United States v. Cardi, 478 F.2d 1362, 1368-1369 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 414 U.S. 852, 94 S. Ct. 147, 38 L. Ed. 2d 101 (1973).
The motions for judgment of acquittal will be denied.
DEA Special Agent Guadagnino testified at trial concerning the role he played on December 9, 1974, while performing surveillance work at the location of the drug transaction. He stated that, at approximately the time that the arrests were planned for on that day, he noticed a Volkswagen automobile parked on the street where the arrests were to occur with the motor running and its parking lights operating. As the agents closed in on the house in which the transaction was taking place, Guadagnino observed the Volkswagen immediately start to drive away. Feeling that the driver and vehicle were involved in the drug transaction, Guadagnino proceeded to follow the Volkswagen. He thereafter stopped the vehicle and asked the driver to identify himself. Guadagnino's testimony ...