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United States of America v. Peter Sepling

April 19, 2012

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
PETER SEPLING, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court are a number of pretrial motions filed by Defendant Peter Sepling. (Docs. 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 58, 59.) For the foregoing reasons, Defendant's motions will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

The relevant facts are set forth in the Government's Response to Defendant's Motions to Suppress Evidence and Statements (Doc. 61)*fn1 as follows:

On April 21, 2011, Customs Officers working at the DHL Courier Facility in Erlanger, Kentucky, targeted a parcel being shipped from China to John Nikoloff in West Wyoming, Pennsylvania. (Doc. 61.) The parcel contained approximately 1.1 kilograms of Gamma-Butyrolactone ("GBL"). (Doc. 61.)

On April 26, 2011, Homeland Security Investigation in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State Police ("PSP") conducted a controlled delivery of the package to Mr. Nikoloff. (Doc. 61.) Shortly thereafter, Mr. Nikoloff was detained by enforcement officials. (Doc. 61.) At that time, Mr. Nikoloff was presented with a Statement of Rights form, which he read and signed, and he voluntarily agreed to speak with federal investigators. (Doc. 61.) Mr. Nikoloff informed the investigators that he had agreed to accept the package for a second individual, Peter Sepling. (Doc. 61.) During the interview, Mr. Nikoloff agreed to place a monitored phone call to Sepling to arrange a meeting to deliver the GBL. (Doc. 61.)

At 3:30 pm on April 26, 2011, Mr. Nikoloff delivered the package to Sepling in a restaurant parking lot. (Doc. 61.) After Sepling left the parking area in his automobile, PSP troopers conducted a traffic stop of Sepling. (Doc. 61.) Sepling subsequently agreed to be interviewed and was transported to PSP Troop P. (Doc. 61.)

Sepling was then presented with a Statement of Rights form, which he read and signed. (Doc. 61, Ex. A.) Sepling acknowledged that he was explained his rights. (Doc. 61, Ex. A.) And, after confirming that he understood his rights, he freely and voluntary waived them without threat or intimidation. (Doc. 61, Ex. A.) Sepling then informed investigators that he ordered the GBL package online. (Doc. 61.) Sepling also told investigators that he paid Mr. Nikoloff to accept the package for him. (Doc. 61.)

Sepling also consented to the search of his residence and a storage locker. (Doc. 61; Exs. B-C.) Sepling's consent to these searches are confirmed by two consent forms signed by Sepling indicating that he authorized the searches voluntarily and without threat or coercion. (Doc. 61, Exs. B-C.) Investigators recovered multiple bottles of pills and liquids as a result of the search of Sepling's residence. (Doc. 61.)

Based on these events, Sepling was indicted and charged with numerous controlled substance related offenses. Sepling has now filed a number of motions seeking pretrial discovery. (Docs. 30-38.) In addition, Sepling has filed two suppression motions. (Docs. 58-59.) The motions have been fully briefed and are now ripe for disposition.

II. Discussion

A. Motion for Notice of Rule 404(b) Evidence (Doc. 30)

Sepling seeks a Court order requiring the Government to provide pretrial notice of its intention to rely upon other crimes, wrongs, acts, and misconduct evidence at trial. Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) states that upon request of the defendant, the prosecution shall provide reasonable pretrial notice of any evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts that it intends to introduce at trial. The Government agrees to comply with Sepling's request for reasonable notice of any uncharged misconduct evidence it will offer under Rule 404(B), acknowledging the benefits of early disclosure. In addition, the Government indicates that it has already provided Sepling's counsel with information relating to three prior felony drug convictions. Therefore, Sepling's motion will be denied.

B. Motion for Early Disclosure of Jencks Material (Doc. 31)

Sepling requests an order compelling the Government to provide early disclosure of Jencks material. The Jencks Act states that in federal criminal prosecutions, the Government need not produce any statement or report made by a Government witness or prospective Government witness (excluding the defendant) until the witness has testified on direct examination at trial. 18 U.S.C.A. § 3500(a). After direct examination, however, "the court shall, on motion of the defendant, order the United States to produce any statement .. of the witness in possession of the United States which relates to the subject matter as to which the witness has testified." Id. § 3500(b). Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 26.2 has extended the Jencks Act so that production of statements is also required after testimony of a Government witness at a preliminary hearing, sentencing, probation hearing, detention hearing, or Rule 8 hearing. See Fed.R.Crim.P. 26.2(g).

However, a district court does not have the power to compel early production of Jencks material. United States v. Murphy, 569 F.2d 771, 773 (3d Cir.1978); United States v. Moyer, 726 F.Supp.2d 498, 513 (M.D.Pa.2010). Here, the Government has indicated that the Jencks material will be provided shortly before trial. Although the Government may choose to provide the material earlier as a courtesy, see Murphy, 569 F.2d at 773 n. 5, nothing in the Jencks Act, the Federal ...


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