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United States v. Lester

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Bluefield

January 12, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
WINDEL LESTER

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          David A. Faber, Senior United States District Judge

         Before the court is defendant Windel Lester's Motion to Revoke Detention Order. ECF No. 63. The court reviewed the motion, the government's response in opposition, (ECF No. 65), and held a hearing on the matter on January 9, 2018. For the reasons stated in the motion and at the hearing, the motion is DENIED.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         A. Background

         On November 15, 2017, the defendant, Windel Lester, along with others, was named in all counts of a 28-count indictment which charged wire fraud, conspiracy to use and the use of fire in the commission of mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and unlawful monetary transactions. ECF No. 1.

         Following the indictment's return, the government filed a motion to detain Mr. Lester pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4142(f)(1). Following a hearing conducted on November 21, 2017, Magistrate Judge Omar J. Aboulhosn concluded that pursuant to the factors outlined in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g), Windel Lester must be detained pending trial to (1) reasonably assure the safety of other persons and the community and (2) reasonably assure defendant's appearance as required. See ECF No. 33.

         On December 14, 2017, defendant filed a Motion to Revoke Detention Order, seeking a de novo review of the magistrate judge's detention order.

         B. Hearing on the Motion

         On January 9, 2018, the court held a hearing on this matter. On behalf of the government, Sergeant Lesley Boytek of the West Virginia State Police testified about telephone calls and other intercepted communications regarding defendant's threats toward a confidential informant. Moreover, the government introduced emails between the defendant and another defendant, Gregory Lester indicating his awareness of and failure to appreciate Gregory Lester's conditions of bond. During cross-examination, however, Sgt. Boytek admitted that knowledge of these threats did not result in any affirmative actions to protect the informant or even communication with the informant about the risk to his safety.

         The defense called Douglas Vinson and Bobby J. Justus assessing that defendant had a reputation for peacefulness within the community.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         “When the district court acts on a motion to revoke or amend a magistrate judge's pretrial [detention] order, the district court acts de novo and must make an independent determination of the proper pretrial detention or conditions of release.” United States v. Stewart, 19 App'x 46, 48 (4th Cir. 2001) (citing United States v. Rueben, 974 F.2d 580, 585-86 (5th Cir. 1992)).

         III. APPLICABLE LAW

         Under the Bail Reform Act, a defendant shall be detained only if a judicial officer finds that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as required or the safety of any other person and the community. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e). The Court's decision in a detention hearing is guided by the following 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g) factors: (1)“the nature and circumstances of the offense charged;” (2)“the weight of the evidence against the person;” (3)“the history and characteristics of the person” including, family ties, employment, financial resources, past conduct, criminal history, and whether the person was on release pending trial; and (4)“the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person's release.” To obtain a detention order, the Government must demonstrate either (1) by clear and convincing evidence that “no conditions other than detention will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community, ” United States v. ...


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