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United States v. Shealey

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

July 8, 2015

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
PATRICK SHEALEY, Defendant

For USA, Plaintiff: John A. Wortmann, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, United States Attorney's Office, Boston, MA; Tavares M. Brewington, United States Attorney's Office MA, Boston, MA.

Page 445

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

Nathaniel M. Gorton, United States District Judge.

In April, 2011, defendant Patrick Shealey (" defendant" ) pled guilty to a one-count indictment charging Distribution of Cocaine and Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). In October, 2011, defendant was sentenced by another Session of this Court to 60 months in prison followed by 60 months of supervised release.

The drugs that were seized from defendant were analyzed by the now-infamous laboratory chemist Annie Dookhan (" Dookhan" ), who later pled guilty to multiple instances of tampering with evidence which included, in some cases, adding known controlled substances to samples thereby creating positive tests. Defendant now contends that, had he been aware of the misconduct by Dookhan that took place at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's William A. Hinton State Laboratory (" Hinton Lab" ), he would not have pled guilty. He moves to withdraw his plea and vacate his conviction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255. The government opposes the motion and requests summary dismissal. For the reasons that follow, defendant's motion to vacate will be denied and the government's request for summary dismissal will be allowed.

I. Factual Background and Procedural History

This case stems from an ongoing investigation into crack cocaine trafficking by the A-1 Drug Control Unit (" DCU" ) of the Boston Police Department. The DCU officers had received information that a crack cocaine dealer named " Red" , later identified as defendant, was operating in the downtown area of Boston and using a certain telephone number to conduct his trafficking operations.

In September, 2010, an undercover police officer (" UC" ) called that number and asked if defendant would be willing to sell him crack cocaine. Communicating through street language, defendant arranged the time and place for UC to meet him to conduct their deal. UC arrived at

Page 446

the designated park bench in Boston Common with a hidden transmitter to allow the officers on nearby surveillance to monitor the deal. UC then covertly gave defendant $100 in exchange for six individually-knotted plastic bags of what appeared to be crack cocaine.

Following the transaction, UC advised over the transmitter that the deal had been completed and that defendant should be placed under arrest. Two of the officers on surveillance attempted to arrest and search defendant, who struggled to escape. From defendant, the officers seized $329 in cash and the cell phone that defendant had used to communicate with UC, as well as six additional individually-knotted plastic bags of suspected crack cocaine. One of those bags was field-tested positive for crack cocaine.

The 12 bags purchased and seized by the officers were then divided, placed in two larger heat-sealed bags and sent to the Hinton Lab where Dookhan and fellow chemist Daniel Renczkowski confirmed that they contained crack cocaine. As the primary chemist, Dookhan opened the two heat-sealed bags, removed the individual bags to obtain their gross weight and then randomly selected two of the 12 bags for a sample analysis. That process left nine bags untested (the 12 bags collected from defendant minus the one field-tested bag and the two bags lab-tested by Dookhan).

In April, 2011, defendant pled guilty to one count of Distribution of Cocaine and Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), and was later sentenced by then-District Judge Joseph Tauro to 60 months of incarceration followed by 60 months of supervised release. Had he not pled guilty, defendant, a career offender, would have faced a sentence in the guideline range of 210-262 months. He raised no question concerning the chemical composition of the drugs nor did he object to the pre-sentence report outlining his offense conduct and characterizing him as a lifelong drug user.

In August, 2013, after Dookhan's misconduct was revealed, and less than 17 months before defendant's projected release from custody, defendant filed the instant motion to withdraw his guilty plea and vacate his conviction. Defendant argues that his plea was not voluntary, knowing and intelligent under Brady v. United States,397 U.S. 742, 90 S.Ct. 1463, 25 L.Ed.2d 747 (1970) and Ferrara v. United States,456 F.3d 278 (1st Cir. 2006), insofar as he ...


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