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United States v. Delacruz

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 4, 2018




         I. Introduction & Procedural Background

         Defendant, Hector Delacruz, is presently facing two sets of federal charges under two separate indictments. On March 28, 2017, a indictment was filed in case number 3:17-CR-77 which charged Defendant with conspiracy to distribute 100 grams and more of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846. (3:17-CR-77, Doc. 1). Defendant was eventually arrested on these charges in New York City. After being transferred from the Southern District of New York to the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Defendant was arraigned before Magistrate Judge Saporito on June 23, 2017. At that time, he waived his right to a detention hearing and was ordered detained pending trial.

         On July 11, 2017, a second indictment was filed in case number 3:17-CR-201, which charged Defendant with possession with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to distribute, 100 grams and more of heroin, 28 grams and more of cocaine base, and unspecified amounts of cocaine, marijuana, and fentanyl in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841, 846. (3:17-CR-201, Doc. 1). On August 10, 2017, Defendant was arraigned on the second indictment before Magistrate Judge Mehalchick. A detention hearing was held the same day and Magistrate Judge Mehalchick ordered Defendant detained pending trial. Nevertheless, the Dentition Order specified that "should the Defendant present to the Court a verifiable home confinement plan so that he can continue with his education as discussed in Court at today's hearing, the Court may consider release with stringent supervision and conditions." (3:17-CR-201, Doc. 10 at 3).

         On September 1, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion for Bail in case number 3:17-CR-77. Thereafter, on September 5, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion to Review Detention in case number 3:17-CR-201. After a hearing was held on both motions on September 11, 2017, Magistrate Judge Mehalchick ordered Defendant's continued detention. Finally, on November 28, 2017, Defendant filed motions in both cases asking this Court to overturn Magistrate Judge Mehalchick's Detention Order and set conditions for Defendant's release. (3:17-CR-77, Doc. 112; 3:17-CR-201, Doc. 35). On March 28, 2018, the Court held a hearing on the motions pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f). For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny Defendant's Motions.

         II. Findings of Facts

         For the purposes of resolving Defendant's present motions, the Court finds the following facts:

         Defendant is a twenty-eight year old male who was born in the Dominican Republic and came to the United States when he was one year old. After coming to the United states, he became a citizen and has lived most of his life in New York City. In 2007, he joined the Navy and served two tours of duty, one in Iraq/Afghanistan and one in South America. In 2010, Defendant was honorably discharged from the Navy. He then obtained a bachelor's degree from Manhattan College. Defendant's employment history is, at best, sporadic. He currently has a wife in the Dominican Republic, but asserts that they are separated.

         On December 4, 2015, a search warrant was executed at 50 North Bennett Court in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Defendant was found in the house along with over 100 grams each of heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and marijuana. Police also recovered 2.5 grams of fentanyl, two electronic scales, assorted packaging materials, and a jacket that contained over 200 grams of cocaine along with various documents belonging to Defendant. Defendant was arrested and charged in Luzerne County with drug trafficking offenses.[1]

         Defendant was released from pretrial custody sometime in February of 2016 after his stepfather posted $10, 000 in bail on Defendant's behalf. Thereafter, on multiple occasions in November and December of 2016, Defendant's phone calls were intercepted on a wiretap that the Pennsylvania State Police were using to investigate a drug trafficking network. During these intercepted calls. Defendant placed orders for quantities of narcotics. These intercepts form the basis of the charges against Defendant in case number 3:17-CR-77.

         In December of 2016, police officers attempted to serve Defendant with a notice of an upcoming court appearance in Luzerne County. The police went to the last address that Defendant had provided the Court, 441 East 6th Street, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, but were told by the individuals residing there that Defendant had moved out months earlier. On January 3, 2017, Defendant failed to appear for a court date in Luzerne County. An arrest warrant was issued. Defendant was arrested in May or June of 2017 in New York City after being stopped for a traffic violation.

         III. Standard of Review

         This Court may review a Magistrate Judge's detention order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b). In reviewing a detention order, a district court must "mak[e] an independent determination of [a defendant]'s eligibility for release on bail." United States v. Delker, 757 F.2d 1390, 1394 (3d Cir. 1985). After conducting a hearing, a district court should order the detention of a defendant before trial if the Court "finds that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(1). The Government bears the burden of proof and must show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is a risk to the community or by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is a flight risk. United States v. Himler, 797 F.2d 156, 160-61 (3d Cir. 1986).

         In making a determination of whether a defendant is entitled to pretrial release under § 3142(e)(1), a district ...

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