United States District Court, District of Massachusetts
March 25, 2015
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON THE QUESTION OF PRETRIAL DETENTION
Richard G. Stearns, United States District Judge
This case came before the court on an appeal from Magistrate Judge Hennessey’s order of detention entered on January 5, 2015. The standard of review is de novo, although weight is given to the Magistrate Judge’s findings of fact. See United States v. Tortora, 922 F.2d 880, 883 n.4 (1st Cir. 1990). The court held a hearing today,, with the defendant present, where additional evidence and arguments were presented by the U.S. Attorney and defendant’s counsel.
In ordering detention, Magistrate Judge Hennessy found the case to be a “close call, ” and I agree. In weighing the factors enumerated by the Bail Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g), the Magistrate Judge in Rojas’s case gave the greatest weight to the nature of the offense (alleged drug trafficking) and the quality of the government’s evidence. In support of his decision, the Magistrate Judge cited the transcripts of intercepted conversations that implicate Rojas in a scheme to launder money through his check cashing business in Lawrence, Massachusetts, at the service of the alleged ringleaders of what appears to be a lucrative heroin distribution enterprise. While I agree with the Magistrate Judge that the evidence of Rojas’s participation in a money laundering conspiracy is strong, it does not necessarily follow that Rojas was also a participant in a conspiracy to distribute drugs. See United States v. Dellosantos, 649 F.3d 109, 115 (1st Cir. 2011) (“The agreement is the sine qua non of a conspiracy, and this ‘element is not supplied by mere knowledge of an illegal activity . .., let alone by mere association with other conspirators . . . .” (citation omitted)). Consequently, I give less weight to the presumption of dangerousness that flows from active drug distribution than perhaps did the Magistrate Judge, as suggested by his reference to Rojas’s “poison[ing] of the community well.”
On the other hand, I give more weight than did the Magistrate Judge to factors that I believe militate against flight. Rojas, while an immigrant from the Dominican Republic,  has deep roots in the United States and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He has a long record of gainful self-employment, is married, and has custody of two young daughters, ages 7 and 12, to whom, by all accounts, he has a close and parentally involved relationship. He has the support of a number of upstanding citizens of his community, and of great importance to the court, has no prior criminal record.
For the foregoing reasons, I am persuaded that the following conditions will reasonably assure Rojas’s appearance and the safety of the community. As conditions prior to release, Rojas is ordered to:
(1) Post a bond of $250, 000, to be secured by the two properties he owns at 567 Mount Vernon Street and 147-151 Farham Street in Lawrence, Massachusetts;
(2) Agree to submit to electronic GPS monitoring, at his personal expense;
(3) Agree to observe a home curfew from 8 PM to 6 AM daily;
(4) Agree to restrict any travel to the City of Lawrence, unless otherwise approved in advance by the Probation Office;
(5) Agree to report in person or by telephone as directed by the Probation Office;
(6) Agree to surrender prior to release any passport (of any country) in his possession and apply for no additional passport(s); and
(7) Agree to observe all other conditions of pretrial release as directed by the Probation Office.
(8) The court further requires that Yadissa Camilo accept appointment as the third-party custodian to act as a guarantor of Rojas’s court appearances and to report any violations of the conditions of release forthwith to the court and the Probation Office.
This order of release is hereby STAYED until all of the above conditions are met to the satisfaction of the Probation Office and the court.