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United States v. Christie

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 4, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LAWRENCE CHRISTIE, Defendant.

          RULING AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR REVIEW OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER AND MOTION TO STAY MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Lawrence Christie (“Defendant”) is currently detained pending trial. On July 10, 2018, he filed a motion for release to an inpatient drug counseling facility. ECF No. 64. On July 20, 2018, Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel convened a hearing on the motion, at which he denied the motion. ECF No. 66. On July 24, 2018, Defendant filed the present motion for review and stay of Judge Garfinkel's order. ECF No. 67. On August 31, 2018, the United States filed a memorandum in opposition to Defendant's motion and release from detention. ECF No. 77.

         For the reasons set forth below, the Court ORDERS that the Defendant remain in custody pending trial, and DENIES Defendant's motion for a new detention hearing.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On November 7, 2017, Defendant was arrested under the criminal complaint in this case. On November 21, 2017, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Defendant and Eyisiel Ortega with Conspiracy to Possess with intent to Distribute and Distribution of Cocaine Base over 28 grams in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(B)(iii), and Possession with intent to Distribute and Distribution of Cocaine Base in violation of 21 U.S.C. §841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C). In connection with the possession of over 28 grams of Cocaine Base, Defendant faces a mandatory minimum term of five years incarceration and a maximum term of 40 years incarceration. 21 U.S.C. §841(b)(viii).

         On December 5, 2017, Defendant was arraigned before Judge Garfinkel. ECF No. 27. After several continuances, a detention hearing was held before Judge Garfinkel on January 26, 2018. ECF No. 37. At the hearing, the United States requested that Defendant continue to be detained due to “the defendant's prior criminal record, the evidence of the long-term ATF investigation into the trafficking of firearms and drugs between North Dakota and Connecticut and the danger to the community.” Gov't Resp. and Memo in Opp. to Def. Mot. for Rev. of Mag. Detention Order, ECF No. 77. Since then, the Defendant has been detained.

         On July 10, 2018, Defendant filed a motion for release to an inpatient drug counseling facility. Mot. for Release, ECF No 64. Defendant suggested he be sent to “the Salvation Army in Hartford which has an available bed.” On July 20, 2018, Judge Garfinkel convened a bond hearing, at which he denied Defendant's motion to be released. ECF No. 66. On July 24, 2018, Defendant filed the present motion for review and stay of Magistrate Garfinkel's July 20, 2018 Order. ECF No. 67. On August 31, 2018, United States filed a memorandum in opposition to Defendant's release. Gov't Resp. and Memo in Opp. to Def. Mot. for Rev. of Mag. Det. Order.

         The United States argues that Defendant is presumed to be a danger to the community due to his indictment under 21 U.S.C. §846, 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C), which carries a maximum term of 40 years in prison. Gov't Resp. and Memo in Opp. to Def. Mot. for Rev. of Mag. Det. Order at 7-8. The United States alleges that Defendant has “no verifiable employment history . . . . [and] four prior convictions, three of which are felony convictions pertaining to selling drugs and illegally possessing a firearm.” Id. at 8. The United States further claims that the Defendant does not have a drug addiction problem. Id. The United States contends that the evidence against Defendant is “strong” and includes: video recordings, two testifying confidential informants, and “recorded telephone calls between the defendant and the buyer.” Id. at 8-9.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Courts review de novo a magistrate judge's detention order. U.S. v. Leon, 766 F.2d 77, 80 (2d Cir.1985). “Under this review standard, [a court] will judge the issues anew, but in doing so, utilize the factual and evidentiary record developed during the detention hearing . . . .” U.S. v. Goba, 240 F.Supp.2d 242, 245 (W.D.N.Y. 2003).

         In determining whether pre-trial detention is warranted, courts consider the factors outlined in 18 U.S.C. 3142(g):

(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime of violence, a violation of section 1591, a Federal crime of terrorism, or involves a minor victim or a controlled substance, firearm, explosive, or destructive device;
(2) the weight of the evidence against the person;
(3) the history and characteristics of the person, ...

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