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United States v. Vick

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 28, 2017




         I. Introduction

         On May 5, 2016, Defendant Eric Vick was indicted on two counts of unlicensed interstate transportation of firearms in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(3). [ECF. No. 1]. At his arraignment on June 1, 2016, the government moved for detention and Vick was ordered detained pending the detention hearing. [ECF No. 6, 10]. After the detention hearing on October 19, 2016, Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein issued a detention order in which she found by a preponderance of the evidence that Vick's release would pose a risk of nonappearance at court proceedings, and by clear and convincing evidence that his release would pose a risk of harm to the public [ECF No. 38]. Magistrate Judge Dein included an explanation for her decision, noting that she was greatly concerned by the fact that “the firearms continue to remain unaccounted for this many years later.” Id.

         On February 7, 2017, Vick appealed, seeking to have the order of detention revoked or amended pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3145(b). [ECF No. 53]. On February 27, 2017, the government opposed the motion. [ECF No. 57]. For the reasons explained below, Vick's motion [ECF No. 53] is DENIED.

         II. Factual Background

         The following facts are taken from the Order of Detention issued by Magistrate Judge Dein [ECF No. 38 (hereinafter, “Order”)], the transcript of the detention hearing before Magistrate Judge Dein [ECF No. 51 (hereinafter “Hearing Tr.”)], and the pleadings of the parties [ECF Nos. 53, 57].

         During the relevant time period, Vick worked at Logan Airport in Boston. Hearing Tr. 8:1-15. In 2013, using his position as a JetBlue ground operations crew member, Vick smuggled cash through security checks at Logan Airport in return for compensation. Id. at 40:21-22, 45:14-16; Order at 3; see also United States v. Vick, 14-cr-10271-RWZ-2 (D. Mass., May 26, 2015). Vick was caught in a sting operation, indicted on money laundering and related charges, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to eighteen months imprisonment. Order at 3; Hearing Tr. 34:25-35:6, 39:24-25. Vick was scheduled to complete his sentence on October 22, 2016. [ECF No. 31]. While serving that sentence, Vick was indicted on the current charges based on the transportation of seven firearms from Georgia to Massachusetts without a license. Order at 3; [ECF No. 1]; Hearing Tr. 14:9-12. Vick now faces an estimated guideline sentence of forty-one to fifty-three months imprisonment. Order at 3.

         During the detention hearing, Shervin Dhanani, a special agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives who worked on the investigation involving Vick, testified to the following. There is evidence that Vick transported to Massachusetts several firearms that he purchased in Georgia in 2011. Hearing Tr. 8:16-24, 14:9-16. The police recovered one of these firearms from the scene of a shooting in Boston, Massachusetts in 2011, and were able to trace it back to Vick because the serial number was intact. Hearing Tr. 5:45, 6:21-24, 7:2-6. The firearm was specifically recovered from an individual known to be a Boston gang member. Hearing Tr. 6:2-19. Following the recovery of this first firearm, police conducted a database inquiry that revealed that Vick had purchased an additional six firearms. Hearing Tr. 7:9-13. His purchase of these firearms is supported by ATF documents that Vick filled out when he purchased them in Georgia. Hearing Tr. 14:9-12. Police then interviewed Vick and he told them that he had purchased the seven firearms in Georgia, had transported the first one to Boston on a Greyhound bus, and stored the others in Georgia. Hearing Tr. 8:11-24. The firearms, however, could not be located in Georgia at the locations where Vick claimed they were. Hearing Tr. 9:12-16.

         In 2013, Police recovered another firearm during a traffic stop in Boston. Hearing Tr. 10:14-17. The Boston Police Lab was able to recover the obliterated serial number on the firearm using chemical processes in a laboratory, and it was traced back to Vick and the purchase he made in Georgia in 2011. Hearing Tr. 7:9-13, 10:3, 11:18-21. The firearm was taken from an individual who was a verified gang member in Boston. Hearing Tr. 11:6-8. The current locations of the remaining five firearms are unknown. Order at 3; Hearing Tr. 10:3. Further, during a conversation between Vick and a cooperating witness, Vick referred to his purchasing guns in the South and driving them up North. Hearing Tr. 19:1-4. There is some evidence that Vick may have given one of the firearms to his brother, Gregory Vick, who has a lengthy criminal record, including firearms convictions, and is a known gang associate. Hearing Tr. 21:21-23:6.

         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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