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United States v. Davis

United States District Court, Third Circuit

November 20, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
PAUL DAVIS, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JOY FLOWERS CONTI, Chief District Judge.

On August 21, 2013, defendant Paul Davis ("defendant") filed a motion to revoke the order of detention entered by the magistrate judge on June 25, 2013 (ECF No. 26), pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b). (ECF No. 43.) The court scheduled a hearing on the motion for August 27, 2013, but continued that hearing at defendant's request pending the filing of the transcript from the June 25, 2013 detention hearing before the magistrate judge. (ECF No. 45.) The transcript was filed on October 23, 2013, and the instant motion was fully briefed by November 5, 2013. The parties thereafter appeared before the court on November 19, 2013. At that hearing, counsel agreed that an evidentiary hearing was not necessary, and presented oral argument on the motion. The court conducted a de novo review of the transcript of the proceedings before the magistrate judge, as well as the pleadings and briefing in this case and the pretrial services report prepared by the pretrial services officer and considered the arguments of counsel. Upon such review, the court found that there was clear and convincing evidence that defendant would be a danger to the community if released and ordered that defendant remain detained without bond pending trial. This Memorandum Opinion sets forth the reasons for the court's decision, and is meant to supplement the reasons set forth on the record at the detention hearing on November 19, 2013.

I. Background

A. Procedural History

On June 18, 2013, a grand jury returned a three-count indictment at criminal action number 13-173 charging defendant and Jaison Evans ("Evans") with various drug trafficking and firearm crimes. Specifically, defendant and Evans were charged in count one of the indictment with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine in and around December 2012 and continuing thereafter to in and around January 2013 in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.[1] (ECF No. 1.) The offense at count one of the indictment carries a statutory minimum term of imprisonment of not less than ten years and a statutory maximum term of life imprisonment, with increased mandatory minimum sentences possible if a defendant has prior felony drug convictions. (ECF No. 2 at 6-7.)

A detention hearing was held on June 25, 2013. At the hearing, the magistrate judge determined that defendant failed to rebut the presumption that no condition or combination of conditions would reasonably assure the safety of the community if defendant were released and entered an order of detention for defendant pending trial. (ECF No. 26; H.T. 6/25/13 (ECF No. 46) at 21-24.) Defendant moved to revoke the order of detention. (ECF No. 43.) Oral argument was held on the motion on November 19, 2013. The court reviewed the transcript of the June 25, 2013 detention hearing, as well as the pleadings and briefing in this case, and the pretrial services report prepared by the pretrial services officer and considered the arguments of counsel, and determined that defendant's request for bond must be denied.

B. Offense History

At the detention hearing before the magistrate judge on June 25, 2013, the government presented the testimony of Special Agent Jamie Bandzak ("Bandzak"), an Internal Revenue Agent detailed to the Drug Enforcement Agency (the "DEA"). (H.T. 6/25/13 (ECF No. 46) at 5, 8.) Defendant presented the testimony of Melissa O'Toole, defendant's girlfriend. (Id. at 11.) Based upon the testimony of these witnesses and the pretrial services report, the following factual background was developed.

Bandzak testified that from the summer of 2012 continuing into roughly February 2013 there was an ongoing investigation conducted by the DEA and other law enforcement agencies focused on traffickers of multi-pound amounts of marijuana and multi-kilogram amounts of cocaine. (Id. at 5.) One of the results of that investigation was the development and use of a confidential informant (the "CI"), an individual who previously sold personal-use quantities of marijuana and cocaine to defendant. (Id. at 5, 10.)

• The CI informed the DEA that he had sold defendant approximately half an ounce of cocaine in December 2012. (Id. at 5.)
• The CI further informed the DEA that during the course of his conversation with defendant in December 2012, the CI was told that defendant and his cousin, believed to be Jaison Evans, were prepared to purchase between 10 and 20 kilograms of cocaine and that they had approximately $500,000 in cash available to do so. (Id.)
• On January 9, 2013, the CI had a meeting with defendant that was supervised and recorded by the DEA during which defendant said to the CI such things as "Whatever I can get, I get what you got. If the bird and the money is right, I don't care how much you got, I'm serious, can you get 20?" In response, the CI and defendant negotiated various prices for the purchase of the cocaine, ultimately arriving at a purchase price of $33,000. Defendant further discussed how the kilograms of cocaine had to be packaged, prepared and presented to him and his cousin. (Id. at 6.)
• A second series of communications between the CI and defendant, which were also recorded, occurred a few days later during which defendant indicated "that he wants to buy between 10 and 20 kilograms of cocaine along with his cousin," followed by an attempt to negotiate the price, and that "he'll - believed to be referring to Mr. Evans - he'll need to see the work, he'll cook some, like a gram, if it's good, then he will buy more," followed by further discussion about the transfer of money and presentation of actual kilograms of cocaine. (Id. at 6-7.)
• On January 18, 2013, another series of conversations between the CI and defendant were recorded during which defendant stated that "We'll test one before buying them all, but we'll whip up an ounce to see if it will do what it do. He'll give me the money, we'll do it at my house, it's safe, he's my family, bring one." (Id. at 7.)

As a result, search warrants were executed at defendant's house, located at 520 Long Road in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, and Evan's house. (Id.) The search of Evan's house produced approximately $443,000, drug-related packaging and distribution paraphernalia, 500 grams of heroin and a firearm. (Id. at 7-8.) No drugs or money were found at the house defendant shared with Ms. O'Toole. (Id. at 9.) After the search warrants were executed, Evans admitted to being a heroin dealer and explained that he was at defendant's house to assist defendant with the purchase of kilograms of cocaine by identifying and working with the seller of the cocaine, who was the CI. (Id. at 8.)

C. Defendant's Personal Background[2]

According to the pretrial services report prepared by the United States Probation and Pretrial Services Office, defendant has been a lifelong resident of the greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, with the exception of a six-year period between 2003 and 2009 when he lived mainly in Aberdeen, Maryland. (Pretrial Services Report at 1.) Defendant's mother and siblings reside in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, and defendant maintains contact with his family. (Id.) Prior to his arrest on the instant charges, defendant resided with his girlfriend, Melissa O'Toole, in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania and had custody of one of his six children. (Id.) Ms. O'Toole is willing to ...


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