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United States of America v. Betty Ann Mckinney

October 6, 2011

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
BETTY ANN MCKINNEY



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bartle, J.

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is the appeal of the United States from an Order of a magistrate judge granting pretrial release to defendant Betty Ann McKinney and a motion of the United States for pretrial detention of defendant McKinney. We review de novo an order from a magistrate judge granting a criminal defendant pretrial release. See 18 U.S.C. § 3145(a); United States v. Delker, 757 F.2d 1390, 1395 (3d Cir. 1985).

McKinney is one of fifteen defendants charged in a sixty-count indictment related to a drug distribution network the government alleges the defendants operated in the vicinity of 5th and Christian Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. McKinney is named a defendant in five of the sixty counts. The indictment charges her with conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count I); maintaining a drug house in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 856 (Count XII); use of a communication facility to facilitate a drug felony in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 843(b) (Count XIII); and two separate counts of distribution of cocaine base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (Counts XXXIII and L).

McKinney appeared before a magistrate judge on October 4, 2011 for an arraignment and a hearing on the government's motion for pretrial detention (Doc. #47). At the conclusion of the hearing, the magistrate judge denied the government's motion and granted pretrial release on stated conditions. The magistrate judge's Order requires McKinney to post $25,000 O/R bail, undergo random drug testing and drug and alcohol treatment, submit to 24-hour electronic monitoring at her home, remain within this judicial district, refrain from obtaining a passport, and to have no contact with co-defendants or witnesses in this case. This court granted the United States a stay of the magistrate judge's Order and held an evidentiary hearing on October 5, 2011. At the hearing, the court heard testimony from two government investigators and from McKinney's husband, Ronald Gay.

The Bail Reform Act governs the issue of pretrial detention. 18 U.S.C. § 3142. A person is either to be (1) released on personal recognizance or upon execution of an unsecured bond; (2) released on conditions; (3) temporarily detained to permit revocation of conditional release, deportation or exclusion; or (4) detained. Id. at § 3142(a). Because McKinney allegedly conspired to distribute over 280 grams of cocaine base, she faces a maximum prison term in excess of ten years. See 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b)(1)(A)(iii), 846. Accordingly, a rebuttable presumption arises that "no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the [defendant] ... as required and the safety of ... the community ...." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(A).

In deciding whether there are any conditions of release that will achieve these goals, the Bail Reform Act requires us to consider the following factors:

(1) The nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime of violence or involves a narcotic drug;

(2) the weight of the evidence against the person;

(3) the history and characteristics of the person, including --

(A) the person's character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and

(B) whether, at the time of the current offense or arrest, the person was on probation, on parole, or on other release pending trial, sentencing, appeal, or completion of sentence for an offense under Federal, State, or local law; and

(4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person's release ....

18 U.S.C. § 3142(g).

We acknowledge that McKinney is charged with serious crimes involving the distribution of narcotics. If convicted, she faces a possible life sentence. The government clearly has evidence of McKinney's involvement in these crimes, including telephone records and video and audio recordings that implicate her. While McKinney has previous convictions for two counts ...


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