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United States v. Lawson

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

April 16, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFREY LEE LAWSON, Defendant.

          RECOMMENDED DISPOSITION

          Hanty A. Ingram, United States Magistrate Judge.

         The Court, on referral from District Judge Van Tatenhove, considers reported supervised release violations by Defendant Jeffrey Lee Lawson. See D.E. 330 at 2. Judge Van Tatenhove imposed a judgment against Defendant in October 2014, following a guilty plea to conspiring to distribute oxycodone and conspiring to manufacture counterfeit obligations. D.E. 221. Defendant was originally sentenced to forty months of imprisonment and a three-year term of supervised release. Id. at 2-3. In October 2015, Defendant's term of imprisonment was reduced to thirty-two months. See D.E. 227. Defendant was released on April 28, 2016, and his term of supervision is currently scheduled to expire on April 27, 2019.

         I.

         On March 19, 2019, the United States Probation Office (“USPO”) issued a Supervised Release Violation Report (“the Report”) charging Defendant with four violations. The USPO then secured a warrant from Judge Van Tatenhove the next day. See D.E. 331.

         According to the Report, on December 21, 2018, U.S. Probation Officer Scott Greiwe contacted Defendant at his reported residence in Williamsburg, Kentucky. At the time, Defendant reported living with his girlfriend, Estella Stanley.

         On March 6, 2019, Officer Greiwe contacted Defendant's reported employer, Roger's Group, Inc., to verify Defendant's employment. According to the human resources department at Roger's Group, Defendant had been terminated from employment on February 6, 2019, due to compatibility issues and for breaking company policy.

         Also on March 6, Officer Greiwe contacted Stanley at her residence. She said Defendant had not resided with her since she asked him to leave in September 2018. Regarding Officer Greiwe's home visit on December 21, 2018, Stanley said that Defendant “broke into” her home and “staged” his clothes in her closet. Stanley also informed Officer Greiwe that she had filed for an Emergency Protective Order and had obtained a warrant after Defendant threatened to kill her. Officer Greiwe conducted a walk-through of the home. The men's clothing that had been in the closet during Officer Greiwe's December home visit was now gone.

         Officer Greiwe then contacted officials with the Whitley County Sheriff's Office. They confirmed that Defendant had an active warrant that was issued on January 2, 2019, for terroristic threatening - third degree, in violation of KRS § 508.080. Officer Greiwe was also informed that there was an active summons for a Temporary Interpersonal Protective Order issued on January 2, 2019. Neither the warrant nor the summons had been served on Defendant. Both were brought to the Whitley County District Court by Stanley.

         On the afternoon of March 6, Defendant sent Officer Greiwe a text message and reported that he no longer worked at Roger's Group, but advised he had a new job. Officer Greiwe directed Defendant to report to the probation office on March 8 to discuss the possible violations. On that day, Defendant reported as directed, and he provided a urine specimen that tested positive for oxycodone and buprenorphine via instant testing device. When Officer Greiwe asked him about the results, Defendant said he last used oxycodone “a couple days ago” from a prescription he had filled in August 2018. According to a Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Inquiry (KASPER), Defendant's last filled prescription was of eight oxycodone tablets on August 16, 2018. Defendant denied used buprenorphine. Defendant's specimen was forwarded to Alere Toxicology Services for further testing. On March 16, Alere Toxicology Services returned positive test results for oxycodone and buprenorphine. Defendant had no prescription for buprenorphine.

         Concerning Defendant's failure to report his termination from his employment, Defendant told Officer Greiwe that he thought he was going to get his job back at Roger's Group, so he did not feel the need to report his termination. Similarly, concerning the allegations that Defendant had not lived at his reported residence since September 2018, Defendant advised that has stayed at that location some since September 2018, but that he has also stayed with other family members.

         Following Defendant's contact with Officer Greiwe at the probation office on March 8, an officer with the London Police Department served the active warrant on Defendant and took him into custody. That case remains pending as Whitley County District Court case number 19-M-50144.

         Based on these facts, the Report alleges that Defendant violated four conditions of his supervised release. First, citing Defendant's urine specimen that tested positive for buprenorphine, the Report alleges that he violated the condition forbidding, among other things, use or possession of any controlled substance except as prescribed by a physician. This is a Grade C violation.

         Relatedly, the Report explains that buprenorphine is a Schedule III controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Thus, “Due to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling that use is the equivalent of possession, and with the defendant's prior drug conviction, simple possession of buprenorphine constitutes conduct that would result in a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 844(a), Simple Possession of a Controlled Substance, a Class E Felony.” On these facts, Violation No. 2 alleges that Defendant violated the condition that he not not commit another federal, state, or local crime. This is a Grade B violation.

         Next, based on Defendant's failure to report his termination from Roger's Group on February 6 in a timely manner, Violation No. 3 alleges that he violated the condition of his supervised release that states: “The defendant shall notify the probation officer at least ten days ...


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