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United States v. Harding

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

May 23, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
KEITH HAKIM HARDING, and RANDY THOMPSON, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Matthew W. Brann United States District Judge

         I. BACKGROUND

         Defendants Keith Hakim Harding and Randy Thompson have each filed a Motion for Bill of Particulars. For the reasons that follow, both motions are denied.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 7(f) provides that the “defendant may move for a bill of particulars before or within 14 days after arraignment or at a later time if the court permits.”[1] The purpose of a bill of particulars is “to inform the defendant of the nature of the charges brought against him, to adequately prepare his defense, to avoid surprise during the trial and to protect him against a second prosecution for an inadequately described offense.”[2]

         A bill of particulars is not, however, a discovery tool.[3] Rather, it serves “to apprise the defendant of the essential facts of a crime, ”[4] and thus should be granted only “if an indictment is so vague that it ‘significantly impairs the defendant's ability to prepare his defense or is likely to lead to prejudicial surprise at trial.'”[5] Furthermore, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has emphasized that a bill of particulars is unnecessary when the Government has provided the defendant with extensive discovery concerning both evidence and witnesses.[6] Finally, the decision to grant a bill of particulars is vested within the “sound discretion of the district court.”[7]

         A. The charges in the indictment

         Both Harding and Thompson are charged in Count One of the second superseding indictment, [8] which reads:

THE GRAND JURY CHARGES:
COUNT ONE
Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances 21 U.S.C. § 846
From in or around January 2011 and continuing through the date of this indictment, in Lycoming, Northumberland, and Columbia Counties, within the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, the defendants
TROY RYHEE BROWN SHAWN CHRISTIAN HAYMAN
KALIF ENGLISH
SHARONDA ROSALIE WALKER
DONALD NATHAN AVERY, JR.
TAYZA DOMINIQUE BROWN
NAQLANN ERIC LEE TAIJUAN JAJUAN FALANA
KEITH HAKIM HARDING
SHAWN ALLEN GAMBRELL
OMAR B. BROWN
MARISSA ANN COP EN
ALKEISHA EDWARDS
CHANT EL MONET MOFARLIN
LAMONT JOHNSON
RANDY THOMPSON,
ERIC JACKSON
SHAKEEN ASMAR TAYLOR
ERIC HARDING
J ARRET CRADDOCK
NAHEEM STINNET NASHEEN WAHLEEK TAYLOR
RICHARD BLACK RAQUAN TYRIKBLOWENTY
and co-conspirators COREY LAMAR HUGHES, PARRIS COATY WATKINS, JR., and TIMOTHY B. MOSES, JR., did knowingly and intentionally combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other, and other persons, known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to commit the following offenses against the United States, to wit: knowing and intentional possession with t he intent to distribute and distribution of controlled substances, that is, heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, cocaine base, known as "crack'' cocaine, a Schedule 11 controlled substance, and buprenorphine. a Schedule III controlled substance, and more specifically:
(1) KALIF HASON ENGLISH, ERIC JACKSON, SHARONDA WALKER, SHAKEEN TAYLOR, ERIC HARDING, TROY BROWN, and KEITH HAKIM HARDING did conspire to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 1, 000 grams and more of heroin:
(2) SHAWN CHRISTIAN HAYMAN, DONALD NATHAN AVERY, JR., NAQUANN ERIC LEE, TA1JUAN JAJUAN FALANA, SHAWN ALLEN GAMBRELL, OMAR BROWN. ALKEISHA EDWARDS, CHANTEL MONET MCFARLIN, LAMONT JOHNSON, RANDY THOMPSON, NAHEKM STINNET, and NASHEEN WAHLEEK TAYLOR did conspire to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams and more of heroin; and
(3) TAYZA DOMINIQUE BROWN MAKISSA ANN COPEN, JARRET CRADDOCK, RICHARD BLACK, and RAQUAN BLOW-ENTY did conspire to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a detectable amount of heroin.
Manner and Means
To carry out the conspiracy, the conspirators employed the following ...

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