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United States v. Rydze

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

April 12, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RICHARD A. RYDZE

          OPINION ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT OF ACQUITTAL AS TO COUNTS 1, 2, 3, AND 169

          Joy Flowers Conti Chief United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         At the close of the government's case, defendant Richard A. Rydze (“defendant” or “Rydze”) moved for judgment of acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal procedure 29(a) with respect to counts 1 through 3, count 4, count 10, and counts 139, 141, 149, 150, and 169.

         Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(a) provides:

(a) Before Submission to the Jury. After the government closes its evidence or after the close of all the evidence, the court on the defendant's motion must enter a judgment of acquittal of any offense for which the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction.

Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(a).

         II. Standard of Review

         In considering a Rule 29 motion, the court must “‘review the record in the light most favorable to the prosecution to determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'” United States v. Boria, 592 F.3d 476, 480 (3d Cir. 2010) (quoting United States v. Brodie, 403 F.3d 123, 133 (3d Cir. 2005)). The court must “examine the totality of the evidence, both direct and circumstantial, ” and “must credit all available inferences in favor of the government.” United States v. Gambone, 314 F.3d 163, 170 (3d Cir. 2003). The court “will only find the evidence insufficient when the prosecution's failure is clear.” United States v. Mercado, 610 F.3d 841, 845 (3d Cir. 2010).

         III. Background

         The court heard argument on defendant's Rule 29 motions on March 16, 2017. At the hearing the court denied defendant's motion with respect to counts 4 and 10. The court granted defendant's Rule 29 motion with respect to counts 139, 141, 149 and 152. Counsel were ordered to confer about count 169, after which the court would consider the motion, and the parties were given leave to file supplemental briefing with respect to counts 1, 2, and 3. The briefs are filed and the court will address defendant's Rule 29 motion with respect to the remaining counts.

         IV. Discussion

         A. Counts 1, 2, and 3

         Count 1 charges Rydze with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances - anabolic steroids, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 & §§ 841(a)(1) & (b)(1). Counts 2 and 3 charge Rydze with distributing controlled substances - anabolic steroids, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and 18 U.S.C. § 2.

         To establish that Rydze is guilty of counts 1, 2, or 3, the government must establish for each count that the distribution of the controlled substances occurred “outside the scope of professional practice” and “not for a legitimate medical purpose.” See United States v. Moore, 423 U.S. 122, 124, 139 (1975); United States v. Merrill, 513 F.3d 1293, 1306 (11th Cir. 2008); United States v. Maynard, 278 F. App'x 214, 218 (3d Cir. 2008); United States v. Feingold, 454 F.3d 1001, 1009-10 (9th Cir. 2006). The relevant provisions of the Code of Federal Regulations use the same language. A medical doctor may only prescribe controlled substances “for a legitimate medical purpose” when “acting in the usual course of his professional practice.” 21 C.F.R. § 1306.04(a). A DEA-registered practitioner is authorized to dispense a controlled substance only “in the course of his/her ...


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