Friday, November 08, 2013

Phoned-in drug relevant conduct sufficiently reliable

US v. Crawford:  In the indictment against him, Kendrick Crawford received six charges of distributing 38.3 grams of crack.  At the time of sentencing, however, Crawford’s PSR calculation for drug relevant conduct grew to a whopping 408.1 grams of crack, arising from the statements of three individuals who reportedly purchased nearly 370 grams of crack from Crawford over a period of several years.  Two of the three individuals who provided statements were paid informants, former addicts “working off” their own crack charges, and they provided the information for Crawford’s drug relevant conduct over the telephone to an ATF agent on the case.  The district court found the information provided was sufficiently reliable to serve as the basis for Crawford’s drug quantity and sentenced him according to the PSR calculation.

On appeal, Crawford contended that his sentence was procedurally unreasonable because the information provided by the call-in witnesses to the ATF agent was multiple hearsay and unreliable.

The Fourth Circuit determined that the district court did not err in relying on the information phoned in by these two witnesses because while the testimony was multiple hearsay and the witnesses were drug addicts who were looking to reduce their own sentences for crack offenses, they provided reliable information in this and in several other federal and state cases, and at least one of the individuals participated in a controlled purchase under the case agent’s surveillance. The Fourth Circuit affirmed Crawford's sentence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

king of surprising that the 4th circuit gleefully trumpets their past reliance on an unpublished decision in which defense counsel filed an anders brief and the government didn't even bother to respond, and which contains absolutely no discussion whatsoever regarding a drug-addicted witness's estimate or, more imporantly, the reason or basis upon which the court allowed the witness's estimate to serve as the sole basis for calculating drug quantity.