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United States v. Sampson

April 13, 2010

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
EARL SAMPSON



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Thomas I. Vanaskie United States District Judge

(JUDGE VANASKIE)

MEMORANDUM

Defendant Earl Sampson has moved to dismiss the counts of an indictment charging him with narcotics trafficking crimes on the basis of misconduct before the grand jury. (Doc. 1069). Specifically, Defendant Earl Sampson claims that law enforcement officers deliberately provided false testimony to the Grand Jury, thereby perverting the grand jury process. Finding that Defendant has not carried his heavy burden of establishing an error in the Grand Jury proceedings that "'substantially influenced the grand jury's decision to indict,'" or establish "'grave doubt' that the decision to indict was free from the substantial influence" of erroneous testimony presented to the grand jury, see Bank of Nova Scotia v. United States, 487 U.S. 250, 256 (1988), his motion will be denied.

BACKGROUND

On September 27, 2007, a federal grand jury sitting in Williamsport, Pennsylvania returned a 26 count indictment charging fourteen persons, including Earl Sampson, with various drug trafficking crimes. Defendant Sampson was charged in Count I with conspiring with co-defendants to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five grams of cocaine base and more than five hundred grams of cocaine within protected zones, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 21 U.S.C. § 860(a). Counts 19 and 21 charged Sampson along with co-defendant Dorothy Robinson with distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in a protected zone, and aiding and abetting same, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(10), 21 U.S.C. § 860 (a), and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Eventually, a third Superceding Indictment was returned on August 14, 2008. Sampson was charged with the same criminal offenses in the same numbered counts, i.e., a drug trafficking conspiracy charge in Count I and substantive charges of distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base in a protected zone and aiding and abetting same, in Counts 19 and 21.

On February 1, 2010, Sampson, now represented by the his third Court-appointed counsel, moved to dismiss the indictment, asserting the presentation of false, misleading and inaccurate testimony to the Grand Jury. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for a decision.

DISCUSSION

Defendant asserts that testimony of two law enforcement officers, DEA Agent Timothy Crowley, and Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Dennis E. Haines, was so materially false as to warrant dismissal of the charges against him. Each of the asserted misrepresentations made by the law enforcement officers will be examined separately.

First, Defendant claims that Agent Crowley falsely testified that Defendant and Co-Defendant Dorothy Robinson had several residences that served as "crack houses." Defendant cites page 3 of Agent Crowley's Grand Jury testimony of September 27, 2007.

As he was reviewing a chart that explained the drug trafficking organization, Agent Crowley testified as follows:

But then you come down and you see Dorothy Robinson, also Dorothy Johnson, or Mae-Mae, she is referred to. And she has been dealing drugs here in Williamsport for approximately 22 years. With that, she has a number of sons and daughters that are involved in the business with her. So from there you see a Shannon Mitchell, a Curtis Mitchell, a Taurance Johnson.

Those are some of the larger scale individuals that are dealing multi-ounce quantities of crack cocaine and cocaine.

Then from there you see different branches going off. You'll see an Earl Sampson and Tony Smith. They reside at one of the houses that Dorothy Robinson is in charge of over on High Street. Tony Smith had recently relocated to Allentown. So we really won't talk about him this round. But Earl Sampson is her boyfriend -- basically a live-in, kind of, but they have different residences at basically different crack houses they live at. (G.J. Testimony of Agent Crowley of 9/27/07 at 3; emphasis added.) It is evident that this testimony did not claim that defendant and co-defendant Dorothy Robinson had several residences. Instead, it is evident that Agent Crowley placed Earl Sampson in a single residence on High Street over which Dorothy Robinson had responsibility. Thus, this testimony affords no basis for a finding that the Grand Jury was misled in any way as to Earl Sampson's involvement in the drug trafficking scheme.

Defendant's next assertion of error is that Agent Crowley represented at page four of his testimony that Defendant was one of a group of individuals who had been dealing drugs since January of 2003, when Agent Crowley knew that Defendant did not associate with the group until the beginning of 2007. Significantly, however, the statement attributed to Agent ...


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