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United States v. Owens

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

November 15, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
HOLLIS OWENS.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         On June 23, 2016, Hollis Owens (“Owens”) was charged by complaint with violations of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), felon in possession of ammunition, and § 924(c)(1)(A), possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. [ECF No. 1]. The government moved for detention. [ECF No. 5]. On July 11, 2016, Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell held a hearing on probable cause and detention. [ECF No. 10]. Judge Cabell subsequently entered a detention order, finding that the government had proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Owens' release would pose a risk of nonappearance, and by clear and convincing evidence that Owens' release would pose a risk of harm to the public. [ECF No. 11]. On July 21, 2016, Owens was indicted by a grand jury and charged with six counts, including being a felon in possession of ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) (count one), possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (counts two through five), and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) (count six). [ECF No. 14]. On August 14, 2016, Owens filed a Motion to Reconsider the Order of Detention based on the availability of housing and employment, as well as the government's clarification that Owens was likely not an armed career criminal. [ECF No. 23]. The government opposed this motion. [ECF No. 24]. Judge Cabell heard arguments on the motion at a hearing, and subsequently denied release. [ECF Nos. 27, 30].

         On September 26, 2016, Owens appealed Judge Cabell's detention order to this Court based on the same circumstances underlying his motion for reconsideration. [ECF Nos. 23, 31]. The government filed an opposition. [ECF No. 35]. The Court held a hearing on Owens' appeal of the order of detention on November 10, 2016. [ECF No. 40]. For the reasons stated herein, Owens' appeal of Judge Cabell's Order of Detention [ECF No. 31] is DENIED.

         II. Factual Background

         The following facts are taken from Owens' Pretrial Services Report (“PSR”), the July 11, 2016 hearing before Judge Cabell [ECF No. 10] and the admitted exhibit, the hearing held before this Court on November 10, 2016 [ECF No. 40], and the Complaint [ECF No. 1].

         Owens, age 43, was born in Boston, Massachusetts. His father died at approximately age 36 following an accident. His mother died at age 63 from cardiac arrest. Owens is currently in a relationship with a women with whom he has four children. He has three adult children from a previous relationship. Owens has regularly used drugs since he was a young teenager, and recently used cocaine to help cope with his mother's death. While Owens has had inconsistent housing for some time, his sister has now volunteered to house him at her home in Worcester, Massachusetts if he is released from detention.

         Owens attended South Boston High School through the 10th grade, but did not graduate. He received a certificate of Culinary Arts and a certificate for Serve Safe from the Jewish Vocation Program at Madison High School. For the last two years, he has worked during the summer at his cousin's window cleaning company. Owens has an employment offer from his cousin, which Pretrial Services was able to confirm. Prior to working for his cousin, Owens worked in various food service positions, including as a cook, baker, and kitchen supervisor. Owens has a significant criminal record, including several prior restraining orders taken out against him and prior gun convictions. Furthermore, he has thirteen defaults on his record.

         Owens was arrested at his girlfriend's residence in Canton, Massachusetts. He and his girlfriend have four children together, ages three through 15. A search of a bedroom allegedly used by Owens resulted in the seizure of $1, 860 in cash, morphine pills, cocaine base, marijuana, a scale, clear plastic bags, ammunition, and a loaded handgun. The gun, ammunition, and cash were in locked safes. The bedroom also contained an Eversource bill and life insurance application in Owens' name.

         III. Discussion

         Under the Bail Reform Act, upon a motion by the government, a defendant must be detained pretrial if, after a hearing, “the judicial officer finds that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e). In making this determination, the court considers the following factors:

(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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