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United States v. Crawford

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 6, 2018

LEE CRAWFORD, Defendant.


          A. Richard Caputo United States District Judge.

         Presently before me is the Motion to Dismiss the Superseding Indictment (Doc. 151) filed by Defendant Lee Crawford ("Crawford"). Crawford argues that the Superseding Indictment should be dismissed because his due process rights were violated as the result of outrageous government conduct and he was entrapped as a matter of law. Because the Government's conduct was not so outrageous as to amount to a due process violation and Crawford has not established his entrapment defense as a matter of law, the motion to dismiss will be denied.

         I. Background

         Crawford was indicted by a grand jury on March 12, 2013. (See Doc. 1, generally). The Superseding Indictment was returned against Crawford on August 16, 2016. (See Doc. 105, generally). Crawford was charged in the Superseding Indictment with: (1) being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e); and (2) distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). (See id.).

         On March 2, 2018, Crawford moved to dismiss the Superseding Indictment. (See Doc. 151, generally). Therein, Crawford relates the factual background regarding a search of the residence he shared with his girlfriend in Kingston, Pennsylvania in July 2010 by Kingston Police related to the claim by a confidential source that Crawford was involved in the sale of crack cocaine. (See Id. at ¶¶ 4-5). After that search revealed $1, 300.00, a quantity of ziploc bags, a prescription pill bottle, and a small amount of marijuana, Crawford was taken to SCI-Dallas to be lodged pending a violation for his state parole. (See Id. at ¶¶ 5-6). A second search of the residence that evening with use of a drug detection canine uncovered only a small glass pipe containing burnt marijuana residue. (See Id. at ¶ 7). A criminal complaint was filed against Crawford charging him with two counts of misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and one count of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. (See Id. at ¶ 9). An Information was subsequently filed against him. (See id.).

         During the pendency of that case, Crawford was told by a Kingston detective that if he did not plead guilty his girlfriend would face marijuana charges. (See Id. at ¶ 11). On January 9, 2012, the misdemeanor drug charges were withdrawn and Crawford pled no contest to summary disorderly conduct and received a sentence of seventeen (17) days time served. (See Id. at ¶ 12).

         According to Crawford, after he was released on bail, Kingston Police targeted him for criminal activity by way of two (2) confidential informants that were also engaged in other illegal activity. (See Id. at ¶¶ 14-18). Specifically, the confidential informants, a male and female couple, allegedly inquired to Crawford about acquiring a firearm for family protection even though he had no predisposition to deal in firearms. (See Id. at ¶ 20). The couple also sought Crawford's assistance in obtaining crack cocaine to ease their drug withdrawal symptoms. (See Id. at ¶ 21). This scheme, claims Crawford, was devised by Kingston Police to settle the score against him for his successful defense on his prior charges. (See Id. at ¶ 22).

         In opposition, the Government explains that on February 29, 2012, a confidential informant made arrangements to purchase a firearm from Crawford in exchange for $600.00. (See Doc. 155, 2). On that day, Crawford was recorded describing the firearms and bullets. (See Id. at 3).

         Additionally, on March 8, 2012, investigators used a confidential informant to purchase approximately 3.5 grams of cocaine from Crawford. (See Id. at 4). A telephone recording was made of the call between Crawford and the informant discussing the details of the drug transaction that was to occur at the informant's residence. (See Id. at 4-5). After Crawford arrived, the drug transaction was recorded by way of a video/recording device. (See id.).

         The Government also points out that Crawford has been convicted on seventeen (17) occasions since 1982 for a variety of crimes, including theft, robbery, public drunkenness, and drug trafficking. (See Id. at 7-8).

         II. Discussion

         Crawford contends that the Superseding Indictment should be dismissed for two reasons. First, he argues that the case should be dismissed under the Due Process Clause as a result of "outrageous government conduct." (Doc. 151, ¶¶ 19-24). Second, Crawford asserts that he was entrapped as a matter of law. (See Id. at ¶¶ 25-28).

         A. Outrageous Government Conduct.

         The Due Process Clause prohibits a defendant from being "convicted of a crime in which police conduct was 'outrageous.'" United States v. 7\wgg, 588F.2d373, 379 (3d Cir. 1978). The conduct must be "shocking, outrageous and clearly intolerable." United States v. Nolan-Cooper,155 F.3d 221, 231 (3d Cir. 1998) (citation and quotation omitted). This "principle is to be invoked only in the face of the most intolerable government conduct." United States v. Lakhani,480 F.3d 171, 180 (3d Cir. 2007) (quotation and citation omitted). "[T]he doctrine of outrageous government misconduct although often invoked by defendants, is rarely applied by courts." United States v. Voigt,89 F.3d 1050, 1065 (3d Cir. 1996). Indeed, there have been "only two reported court of appeals decisions - both from the 1970s - that have deemed the government's conduct so outrageous as to violate due process." United States v. Combs,827 F.3d 790, 795 (8th Cir. 2016) (citing Twigg, 588 U.S. at 381; Greene v. United States,454 F.2d 789, 787 (9th Cir. 1971)); United States v. Washington,869 F.3d 193, 209 (3d Cir. 2017); accord Nolan-Cooper, 155 F.3dat230 ("it appears that the viability of the doctrine is hanging by a thread"). "While continuing to recognize, in theory, the outrageousness ...

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