United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
For USA, Plaintiff: Glenn A. MacKinlay, LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Attorney's Office, Boston, MA.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge.
In March, 2009, this Court sentenced Dan Smith (" defendant" ) to 60 months in prison and four years of supervised release. The sentence was imposed pursuant to a Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C) binding plea agreement and the crimes to which defendant pled were Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine and Cocaine Base, Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base and Possession of Ammunition as a convicted felon.
The drugs that were seized from defendant were analyzed by laboratory chemist Annie Dookhan (" Dookhan" ), who later pled guilty to multiple instances of tampering with evidence, which included adding known controlled substances to samples thereby resulting in positive tests. Defendant now contends that he would not have pled guilty had he been aware of the misconduct that took place at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's William A. Hinton State Laboratory (" Hinton Lab" ) and moves to withdraw his plea and vacate his conviction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. For the reasons that follow, defendant's motion will be denied.
In or about December, 2006, a cooperating witness, (" the CW" ) informed law enforcement officers of defendant's drug operation, located at 227 Washington Street, Taunton, Massachusetts (" the residence" ) and admitted to purchasing crack cocaine from defendant on at least two previous occasions. Based on that information, officers set up surveillance outside the residence where they observed heavy foot traffic consistent with a busy drug establishment. Officers also obtained telephone records, which revealed a high volume of calls between defendant and co-conspirators " proving drug dealing." They arranged for the CW to carry out a controlled purchase from defendant. Officers provided the CW with $40 buy money and directed him/her to contact defendant. Officers watched as the CW entered the residence and emerge a few minutes later. After the purchase was complete, the CW handed officers a substance that field tested positive for cocaine.
On December 28, 2006, officers executed a warrant to search the residence. Upon entering, they encountered defendant sitting on the living room couch and a woman, later identified as Jillian Richards (" Ms. Richards" ), standing in the kitchen. As the officers approached, Ms. Richards attempted to conceal a suspicious substance from officers by throwing it all over the kitchen. Officer retrieved the substance from the various kitchen surfaces and then searched the rest of the residence.
A full search of the apartment uncovered: (1) a black bag with a firearm holster, (2) two bottles of a cutting agent, (3) paperwork from Morton Hospital under the name of Dan Smith, (4) 50 Remington rounds of ammunition, (5) cocaine on the stove and in the oven, (6) crack cocaine on the kitchen table and floor, (7) a pill bottle with 13 rounds of ammunition, (8) a cellular phone, (9) a prescription under the name of Dan Smith and (10) a small digital scale. Officers eventually sent the drugs to the Hinton lab where chemists Annie Dookhan and Peter Piro confirmed their identity as cocaine. The official drug certificates identify Dookhan as the primary analyst.
After the search, Ms. Richards provided a statement wherein she confirmed that defendant was cooking crack cocaine in the kitchen and described defendant's drug dealing operation as a thriving business that served at least 50 customers each day. Ms. Richards admitted to her involvement in the operation and pled guilty in Bristol County Superior Court, where she received a sentence of two years to two years and one day.
In October, 2008, a Second Superseding Indictment charged defendant with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and Felon in Possession of Ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Shortly thereafter, the government and defendant executed a binding plea agreement, pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C), whereby defendant agreed to plead guilty to all three counts in exchange for a sentence of incarceration for a period of 60 months and four years of supervised release. Absent the plea agreement, defendant would have faced a sentencing guideline range of 95-115 months. He raised no question concerning the chemical composition of the drugs nor did he request additional testing.
Defendant served his term of incarceration and then, in March, 2013, approximately 22 months into his term of supervised release, defendant filed the instant motion to withdraw his guilty plea and vacate his conviction. Defendant argues that his plea was involuntary insofar ...