United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, London
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Gregory F. Van Tatenhove United States District Judge
nearly two weeks of trial and deliberations, a jury acquitted
Defendant Ralph Miniet of conspiracy to commit money
laundering but failed to render a verdict as to conspiracy to
distribute oxycodone. [R. 300.] Upon motions by Dr. Miniet,
the Court granted a partial verdict as to the money
laundering and declared a mistrial as to the distribution
charge. [R. 296.] Dr. Miniet has now filed a Motion for
Judgment of Acquittal as to the distribution charge pursuant
to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29. [R. 328.] Dr.
Miniet believes that no reasonable juror could find
sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction for conspiracy to
distribute oxycodone. However, because the Court finds such
sufficient evidence, the Court DENIES Dr.
Ralph Miniet was charged on November 5, 2015, with one count
conspiracy to distribute pills containing oxycodone, in
violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. [R.
1.] That indictment was superseded on March 24, 2016, to add
conspiracy to commit money laundering, in violation of 18
U.S.C. § 1956(a)(1)(A)(i). [R. 82.] According to the
Superseding Indictment, Dr. Miniet, along with Rolando Boada,
Maria Boada, and Sonia Castellon, owned, operated, and/or
were employed by Angel's Medical Services. Id.
at 2-3. Angel's was a pain management clinic in Miami,
Florida, where, according to the Superseding Indictment, the
Defendants illegally dispensed and distributed oxycodone by
providing if for nonlegitimate medical purposes. Id.
Specifically, groups traveled from southeastern Kentucky to
Miami to be treated at Angel's and receive oxycodone
pills, which were then resold throughout the Eastern District
of Kentucky. Id. at 3-4. The Superseding Indictment
alleges that Dr. Miniet and his Co-Defendants knew, or should
have known, about this scheme to acquire and distribute those
Dr. Miniet's trial, Co-Defendants Rolando Boada, Maria
Boada, and Sonia Castellon all entered guilty pleas to
conspiracy to distribute oxycodone. [R. 246; R. 247; R. 248.]
All three were sentenced on March 7, 2018. [R. 241; R. 242;
R. 243.] All three testified at trial for the Government. [R.
321; R. 322.]
its case in chief, the Government presented evidence seeking
to prove that Dr. Miniet knew about the illegal distribution
of oxycodone and that he was a part of the conspiracy with
Rolando Boada, Maria Boada, and Sonia Castellon. According to
the Government's theory, Dr. Miniet knew or should have
known that the patients at Angel's were acquiring
oxycodone for distribution, and as the only physician on
staff, he continued to write prescriptions for these
patients, knowing they were using them for an unlawful
purpose. [R. 319 at 17-25.] Dr. Miniet maintained that he was
unaware of the conspiracy involving Ms. Castellon and Mr. and
Mrs. Boada, specifically because their illegal actions were
kept secret from Dr. Miniet. [R. 319 at 26- 33.] At the
conclusion of the Government's case in chief, Dr. Miniet
moved for a Judgment of Acquittal pursuant to Rule 29, which
the Court denied. [R. 293.] Dr. Miniet renewed this motion at
the close of trial, and the Court again denied the motion.
[R. 294.] The jury began their deliberations on September 11,
2018, continuing on through September 12 and into the
afternoon of September 13. [R. 294; R. 295; R. 296.] On
September 13, the jury indicated they could not come to a
unanimous decision concerning the distribution of oxycodone.
[R. 301.] Following the grant of a mistrial, Dr. Miniet filed
another Rule 29 motion. [R. 328.] After considering the
arguments and the evidence presented by the Government during
trial, the Court denies the request for post-trial relief.
requires this Court to enter a judgment of acquittal on
“any offense for which the evidence is insufficient to
sustain a conviction.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(a). When
considering a Rule 29 motion based on an alleged
insufficiency of the evidence, the Court may not reweigh the
evidence, reevaluate the credibility of witnesses, or
substitute its judgment for that of the jury. See United
States v. Callahan, 801 F.3d 606, 616 (6th Cir. 2015).
Instead, the Court views all of the evidence in the light
most favorable to the Government, and then it considers
whether any rational trier of fact could find the elements of
the counts of conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. See,
e.g., United States v. Vichitvongsa, 819 F.3d
260, 270 (6th Cir. 2016); United States v. Villarce,
323 F.3d 435, 438 (6th Cir. 2003). “In sum, a defendant
claiming insufficiency of the evidence bears a very heavy
burden.” Callahan, 801 F.3d at 616 (quoting
United States v. Jackson, 473 F.3d 660, 669 (6th
Cir. 2007)). Because Dr. Miniet has failed to sustain this
burden, the Rule 29 motion is denied.
review of the trial evidence demonstrates that a rational
trier of fact could conclude Dr. Miniet was guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt of the charge of conspiracy to distribute
oxycodone. At this stage, it is important to note that the
jury did not return a verdict as to that count, however, a
mistrial is not the same as an acquittal. A mistrial here was
granted after the jury was unable to come to a unanimous
decision as to Count 1. [R. 296; R. 301.] Simply because the
jury could not come to a unanimous decision does not mean
there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. Any
implication by Dr. Miniet that a mistrial supports his Rule
29 motion is therefore misplaced.
Dr. Miniet guilty of a conspiracy to illegally distribute
drugs, the jury must find a conspiracy existed, Dr. Miniet
knew of that conspiracy, and Dr. Miniet knowingly and
voluntarily joined the conspiracy. United States v.
King, 272 F.3d 366, 370 (6th Cir. 2001). The jury may
infer knowledge of and participation in the conspiracy based
on a defendant's “actions and reactions to the
circumstances.” Id. (quoting United States
v. Barrett, 933 F.2d 355, 359 (6th Cir. 1991).
Miniet presents two arguments in support of his motion.
First, he argues the Government presented no evidence that he
knowingly and voluntarily joined the alleged conspiracy. [R.
328 at 8.] Next, he claims that there was no evidence he
dispersed or distributed oxycodone for any purpose other than
a legitimate medical one. Id. The Government argues
that Dr. Miniet's motion is untimely, leaving the Court
without jurisdiction to rule on the matter. [R. 329 at 3.]