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United States v. Jones

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division

May 17, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES RONALD JONES, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER

          Gregory F. Van Tatenhove United States District Judge

         On December 20, 2017, United States Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram held a detention hearing for Defendant James Ronald Jones. [R. 237.] Judge Ingram then determined Mr. Jones should be detained pending trial pursuant to the Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. §§ 3141, et seq. [R. 240.] Nearly five months later, Mr. Jones now requests reconsideration of that order pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b) by the undersigned. [R. 323.] For the reasons that follow, the Court overrules Mr. Jones's objections to Magistrate Judge Ingram's detention order, and Mr. Jones shall remain in custody pending trial.

         I

         A

         Initially, a grand jury returned a second superseding indictment in this case on November 9, 2017, adding Mr. Jones as a defendant and charging him with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, to include a quantity of pills containing oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance. [R. 181 at 1-2.] This conspiracy is in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. Id.

         Consistent with the Court's local practice, Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram presided over Mr. Jones's initial appearance, arraignment, and detention hearing. [R. 224; R. 237.] Judge Ingram determined detention was required in this case, and imposed detention pending trial. [R. 240.] Mr. Jones challenged this detention order and requests that this Court, after a de novo review of the record and an independent detention review hearing, release Mr. Jones pending trial. [R. 323.]

         B

         In his detention order, Magistrate Judge Ingram discussed the presumption of detention as to flight risk and danger that applies to this case. [R. 240.] The findings in the detention order were based on testimony of one Defense witness, Mr. Christopher Snyder, who considered himself a close friend to Mr. Jones, and Agent Kyle Sizemore, a Diversion Investigator with the DEA. Id. at 1-2. Mr. Jones also submitted several character letters. Id. Based on this evidence, Judge Ingram found that Mr. Jones initially rebutted the presumption of detention for flight risk and danger. Id. at 5. However, the presumption of detention does not completely disappear, even when a defendant can rebut it. Instead, the presumption retains evidentiary weight to be considered along with the other factors of § 3142(g). United States v. Stone, 608 F.3d 939, 947 (6th Cir. 2010).

         Ultimately, Judge Ingram found that the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g) lean in favor of detention. [R. 240 at 5.] Mr. Jones's charge of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone was a pro-detention factor under § 3142(g)(1). Offenses related to controlled substances are enumerated as offenses where the nature and circumstances of the charged crime weigh in favor of detention. § 3142 (g)(1). If Mr. Jones is convicted of Count 1, he faces up to thirty years imprisonment. [R. 240 at 5.]

         Judge Ingram also found that § 3142(g)(2) supported detention of Mr. Jones prior to trial. He discussed how the weight of the evidence regarding the dangerousness of Mr. Jones was substantial, as the alleged conspiracy occurred while Mr. Jones was serving parole. Id. at 6. Additionally, evidence showed that Mr. Jones initially lied about being in Sevierville, Tennessee, though hotel receipts were later able to prove his whereabouts. Id. Judge Ingram determined this behavior demonstrated disregard for his parole conditions and thus disregard for additional conditions of release. Id.

         Similarly, Judge Ingram determined that Mr. Jones's history and characteristics under § 3142(g)(3) supported detention. Id. Beginning at the age of twenty, Mr. Jones has been convicted for burning motor vehicles, grand larceny, possession with intent to distribute Cocaine Hydrochloride, an attempt to commit felony burglary, and theft, possession, and transportation of stolen vehicles. Id. The last of these convictions occurred in 1995, but the alleged conspiracy began in 2007, while Mr. Jones was serving out conditions of parole from his last conviction. Id. While Mr. Jones submitted twenty-three character letters indicating he is a hardworking and considerate individual, Judge Ingram determined his criminal history weighed in favor of detention. Id.

         Finally, Judge Ingram found that § 3142(g)(4) supported detention of Mr. Jones. Id. at 7. The allegations of burglaries of pharmacies in order to traffic in oxycodone is a serious charge. Id. Such behavior is a danger to the community. Additionally, Judge Ingram was concerned that this conspiracy occurred during a period of parole for Mr. Jones, and that Mr. Jones's statements related to his stay in Sevierville were not consistent with hotel receipts for which he signed. Id.

         Ultimately the § 3142 factors “combine to indicate significant danger risks of a serious nature, ” and these danger risks to the Community are what the Magistrate Judge relied on to justify detention pending trial. Mr. Jones, through counsel, now seeks review of Judge Ingram's findings [R. 240], and the Court considers the matter de novo. See, e.g., United States v. Crane, No. 5:15-005-DCR, ...


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