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United States v. Green

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

September 7, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JASON GREEN, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Nora Barry Fischer United States District Judge

         On June 14, 2017, Defendant Jason Green was ordered detained pending trial of the charge of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, after U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy found that he had failed to rebut the applicable presumption of detention in this matter. (Docket No. 118). Presently before the Court is Defendant's “Motion for Reconsideration and Renewed Detention Hearing, ” filed on August 22, 2017, wherein Defendant seeks a renewed detention hearing pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f) in light of “new evidence” which he claims demonstrates that a prior criminal case in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County listed on the pretrial bond report resulted in an acquittal of all charges. (Docket No. 166). The Government opposes Defendant's Motion, arguing that additional documents it obtained from the Court of Common Pleas show that Defendant was convicted of one of the charges at issue and otherwise contending that the detention proceedings should remain closed. (Docket No. 170). After careful consideration of the parties' positions, and for the following reasons, Defendant's Motion [166] is DENIED.

         At the outset, Defendant cites the general standard on reconsideration in support of his request for a renewed detention hearing. (Docket No. 166). However, as he is seeking to reopen the detention hearing which was closed on June 14, 2017, this matter is controlled by 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2). The relevant portion of the statute provides that:

[t]he hearing may be reopened, before or after a determination by the judicial officer, at any time before trial if the judicial officer finds that information exists that was not known to the movant at the time of the hearing and that has a material bearing on the issue whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the appearance of such person as required and the safety of any other person and the community.

18 U.S.C. § 314(f)(2) (emphasis added). Evidence is deemed “material” if it was not available at the time of the initial hearing and its addition to the record would warrant a different outcome of the detention proceedings. See e.g., United States v. Warren, 2010 WL 1904772 (W.D. Pa. May 11, 2010) (Conti, J.); United States v. Costanzo, 2009 WL 2058725 (W.D. Pa. Jul. 15, 2009) (McVerry, J).

         It is this Court's opinion that the addition of the evidence submitted by the parties as part of the present motions practice regarding Defendant's criminal case at ¶ 2846-2004 is not material on the issue of whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure Defendant's appearance or of the safety of any other person or the community in this case. See Id. Again, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3), a rebuttable presumption has been established 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). Having reviewed the evidence presented by the parties during the detention hearing, de novo, this Court finds that Defendant has failed to rebut the applicable presumption of detention in this matter even if he is correct that he was acquitted of all of the charges at ¶ 2846-2004 - a factual dispute which the Court need not resolve at this time. See United States v. Carbone, 793 F.2d 559, 560 (3d Cir. 1986) (to rebut the presumption “[t]he defendant must produce some credible evidence forming a basis for his contention that he will appear and will not pose a threat to the community.”). The Court also concludes that Magistrate Judge Eddy's detention order is otherwise fully supported by the clear and convincing evidence in the record. See United States v. Gibson, 481 F.Supp.2d 419 (W.D. Pa. 2007) (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)) (“If the presumption is rebutted, the facts employed to support detention must ‘be supported by clear and convincing evidence.'”).

         In reaching these decisions, the Court has conducted an independent examination of the record evidence and balanced the four factors set forth under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g), i.e.,

a. The nature and circumstances of the offenses charged;
b. The weight of the evidence against the person;
c. The history and characteristics of the person; and,
d. The nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the defendant's release.

         This Court finds that, on balance, the evidence presented at the detention hearing, as supplemented before this Court, favors the Government on each of these cited factors and demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that detention was appropriately ordered. See Gibson, 481 F.Supp.2d 419.

         First, the grand jury indicted Defendant for a very serious offense, i.e., conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1 kilogram or more of heroin, a conviction for which may result in the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life imprisonment. See 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 841(b)(1)(A)(i), and 846. Hence, there is probable cause that he committed such offense. See United States v. Suppa, 799 F.2d 115, 119 (3d Cir. 1986) (“an indictment is a sufficient substitute for a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause.”). As such, this factor weighs against Defendant.

         Second, the evidence presented by the Government at the detention hearing, including the testimony of Special Agent Karen Springmeyer and supporting exhibits, appears to be strong as Defendant was observed by law enforcement approaching a residence which was used to stash heroin and his communications with a coconspirator were intercepted and indicate that he was involved in heroin trafficking at the time. See United States v. Maynard, 586 F. App'x 56, 59 (3d Cir. 2015) (evidence of drug sales constitute strong evidence of his knowing participation in the conspiracy). As Agent Springmeyer explained, a large quantity of heroin was seized from this location upon the execution of a search warrant and additional heroin was seized at other locations frequented by coconspirators. (Docket No. 161 at 12- 17, 31). She also emphasized that the Government's evidence against Defendant was not limited to that which ...


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