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United States v. Beverly Lockhart

April 4, 2013



The story of Pandora's Box teaches us that seemingly innocuous actions can have serious, permanent consequences. When Beverly Lockhart spoke to law enforcement officers, she might not have realized that those statements would lead to criminal charges against her. Unlike Pandora, Lockhart has a chance put her statements to the officers back in the box. She has filed a motion to suppress, arguing that her statements were taken in violation of her Fifth Amendment rights. Lockhart's motion lacks merit because her testimony at the suppression hearing was not credible. So her statements remain out in the open and may be used against her at trial.


Beverley Lockhart is charged with conspiring to distribute controlled substances; conspiring to sell, purchase, or trade prescription drug samples; conspiring to commit health care fraud; and conspiring to commit money laundering. See Superseding Indictment, R. 16; Second Superseding Indictment, Criminal No. 7:12-08, R. 82.*fn1 How does one person end up implicated in so many different criminal schemes? The story starts with a pharmacy.

The indictments allege a series of intricate conspiracies, but the basic moving parts are as follows. Lockhart worked as a manager and a pharmacy technician at the Marrowbone Hometown Pharmacy, which her brother James Ronald Huffman owned and operated. R. 16 at 1--2; R. 152 at 162. The pharmacy had connections to two doctors. The first was Dr. Roos, who worked in Houston, Texas. Patients would travel from Kentucky to Houston to receive prescriptions for pain medication from Dr. Roos and then return to Kentucky to fill those prescriptions at Marrowbone. See R. 16 at 1--2. Many of the pills were later sold. See R. 16 at 2--3. The second was Dr. Thad Ray Manning, whose office was in the same building as Marrowbone. See Criminal No. 7:12-08, R. 82 at 1--2. Dr. Manning allegedly gave Marrowbone some of the drug samples that he received from pharmaceutical representatives. Marrowbone used those samples to fill prescriptions, thereby increasing its profits. See id. at 1--2, 4. Lockhart, as a pharmacy employee, allegedly participated in both of these schemes.

As part of the investigation into those schemes, the government planned and executed a search of the pharmacy to collect evidence. Special Agent Mark Bartley of the Food and Drug Administration, the lead investigator on the case, recruited fourteen other state and federal law enforcement officers to help execute the search warrant. See R. 159 at 4. Some of the agents were assigned to search for evidence, and others were assigned to try and interview pharmacy employees. See id. at 5. The day before the search, Special Agent Bartley briefed the officers and told them that the search was a low-key affair and that no arrests were planned. See id. at 4--5. The search began around 9:30 a.m. the next day and lasted until about 5:00 p.m. See id. at 4, 9.

During the search, Special Agent Bryan Ballman of the Food and Drug Administration and Detective Amos Adkins of the Kentucky State Police interviewed Lockhart. See id. at 5--6. After entering the pharmacy and locating Lockhart, the two said they would like to ask her some questions and asked if there was a place they could do so. The three proceeded to the pharmacy's employee break room. See id. at 6. Special Agent Ballman then gave Lockhart a non-custodial warning, meaning he told her that she did not have to answer questions, that she could leave if she wanted to, and that she would not be arrested. See id. Lockhart did not receive a Miranda warning. See id. at 8. After a few general questions, the agents questioned Lockhart about the alleged conspiracies described above. See id. at 6--7; R. 152 at 76. The interview lasted around two and a half to three hours. See R. 159 at 6. After the interview, Lockhart approached Special Agent Ballman and provided him with more information. See id. at 7.

Lockhart moved to suppress all of the statements she made to law enforcement officers on the grounds that her statements were taken in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). See R. 108. The motion was referred to the Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation. See R. 84-1 at 9; 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)--(C). The Magistrate Judge held evidentiary hearings, solicited supplemental briefing, and then recommended that this Court deny the motion. See R. 122; R. 152; R. 150; R. 159.

Lockhart's testimony differed from the testimony of the law enforcement officers on several points. To resolve the factual disputes, the Magistrate Judge began by finding that Lockhart was less credible than the law enforcement officers. See R. 159 at 2--4.

After addressing the credibility issue, the Magistrate Judge turned to Lockhart's Miranda claim. A Miranda warning informs a person of the right to remain silent, the right to a retained or appointed attorney, and the risk that any statements made could be used against her. See Miranda, 384 U.S. at 444. A Miranda warning is required before law enforcement officers interrogate an individual in their custody. If the warning is not given, that individual's statements cannot be used in the case in chief against her at trial. See id. The United States conceded that Special Agent Ballman and Detective Adkins did interrogate Lockhart but did not give her a Miranda warning. So the issue was whether Lockhart was in custody. See R. 159 at 10--11.

The Magistrate Judge found that Lockhart was not in custody, that Miranda did not apply, and that any statements she made to law enforcement officers were admissible against her. See id. at 21. He recommended that this Court deny Lockhart's motion to suppress, see id., and Lockhart objected to that recommendation, see R. 179.


Lockhart's objection unfolds in two steps. She argues that the Magistrate Judge erred when he discounted her credibility and found that Special Agent Ballman did give her a non-custodial warning. Then she argues that the erroneous finding was the lynchpin of the Magistrate Judge's custody analysis. Without it, she believes that the Magistrate Judge would have concluded that she was in custody and that suppression was warranted because she did not receive a Miranda warning. Because this Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's credibility determination, her objection is overruled.

I.The Credibility Determination

A district court reviews the objected-to portions of a report and recommendation de novo. See United States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 681--82 (1980). When an objection challenges the Magistrate Judge's credibility determination, the district court has discretion to decide whether to rehear the evidence presented at the suppression hearing. See id. at 680 81. A rehearing is unnecessary in this case. Neither side requested a ...

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