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United States v. Fields

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 31, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
LAMAR FIELDS, Defendant.

          ORDER

          JOEL H. SLOMSKY, JUDGE

         AND NOW, this 31st day of October 2017, upon consideration of Defendant Lamar Fields' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 153) and the Government's Omnibus Response to Defendant's Pretrial Motions (Doc. No. 155), it is hereby ORDERED that Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 153) is DENIED.[1]

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Notes:

[1] On April 12, 2017, Defendant Lamar Fields was charged in a Superseding Indictment with one count of conspiracy to knowingly and intentionally distribute oxycodone, six counts of knowingly and intentionally distributing and aiding and abetting the distribution of oxycodone, and six counts of knowingly and intentionally acquiring and aiding and abetting the acquisition of oxycodone by fraud. (Doc. No. 134.)

In his Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 153), Defendant challenges the sufficiency of Counts 2 to 7 (knowing and intentionally distributing and aiding and abetting the distribution of oxycodone). (Doc. No. 134.) Specifically, he asserts that the Superseding Indictment insufficiently describes the charges that are brought against him in Counts 2 to 7, in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. (Doc. No. 153.) In response, the Government submits that the Indictment contains a “plain, concise, and definite written statement of the essential facts constituting the offense charged, ” satisfying the requirements under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Fed. R. Crim. P. 7(c)(1). (Doc. No. 155.)

It is well-established that an indictment must sufficiently set forth the essential facts of the offense charged. United States v. Hodge, 211 F.3d 74, 76 (3d Cir. 2000). The Third Circuit has set forth steps to determine the sufficiency of an indictment by looking at: (1) whether the indictment includes the elements of the offense the defendant is being charged with; (2) whether the indictment sufficiently notifies the defendant of what he must be prepared to meet; and (3) whether the indictment enables a defendant to plead an acquittal or conviction so as to invoke double jeopardy in the event of a subsequent prosecution. United States v. Huet, 665 F.3d 588, 595 (3d Cir. 2012); see also United States v. Kemp, 500 F.3d 257, 280 (3d Cir. 2007).

An indictment containing a reiteration of the statutory language is permissible, provided that the language “fully, directly, and expressly, without any uncertainty or ambiguity, set[s] forth all the elements necessary to constitute the offense intended to be punished.” Hamling v. United States, 418 U.S. 87, 117 (1974). An indictment that informs a defendant of the statute he is charged with violating, lists the elements of a violation under that statute, and specifies the time period during which the violations allegedly occurred, is generally considered sufficient. See United States v. Urban, 404 F.3d 754, 771 (3d Cir. 2005) (holding that an indictment, which referred to the language of the Hobbs Act, recited the elements of the violation of that statute, and identified in chart form the unlawful transactions made by defendants, was sufficient to inform defendants of the charges being brought against them to prepare a defense and invoke the double jeopardy clause if needed). Additionally, an indictment should be read as a whole. See 6 James Wm. Moore et al., Moore's Federal Practice, ¶ 607.04[2][b] (3d. ed. 2015); see also United States v. Turley, 891 F.2d 57, 59 (3d Cir. 1989) (finding that in reading an indictment in its entirety, it sufficiently alleged a conspiracy to commit mail fraud).

In this case, the charges at issue in Counts 2 to 7 are codified at 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), which provides that it is “unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally-(1) to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, a controlled substance.” 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). Defendant is also charged with violating 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C), which describes the sentences for Schedule II controlled substance violations.

Here, the relevant portion of the Superseding Indictment is as follows:

COUNTS 2 THROUGH 7

THE GRAND JURY FURTHER CHARGES THAT:

On or about the dates listed below, in Philadelphia, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, defendant

LAMAR FIELDS

a/k/a: “Lamar Cooper, ”
a/k/a “Mar, ”

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