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United States v. Lester

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

April 10, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
WINDEL LESTER

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          David A. Faber, Senior United States District Judge.

         Pending before the court is Windel Lester's motion for production of records pursuant to Rule 17(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. ECF No. 179. For the reasons stated herein, the motion is DENIED for lack of specificity.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Windel Lester, along with others, has been named in 30 counts of a 40-count Second Superseding Indictment, which charges 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. 142. Each charge stems from three alleged schemes to defraud insurers by filing false insurance claims and collecting proceeds after purchasing and setting fire to homes located in Matoaka, Huntington, and Ikes Fork, West Virginia. See id.

         Dudley Bledsoe is an unindicted co-conspirator who allegedly assisted in setting the fire to the Matoaka property, filing an insurance claim, and collecting insurance proceeds. On March 14, 2018, Dudley Bledsoe came before this court and pled guilty to an Information which charged him with one count of unlawful monetary transactions in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1957 and 2. See United States v. Bledsoe, 1:18-cr-00035, ECF No. 11. This charge related to the receipt of insurance proceeds after the fire on the Matoaka property. Thus, defendant contends that Bledsoe will serve as a pivotal witness in the government's case-in-chief.

         Counsel for Lester requests that this court issue a Rule 17(c) subpoena ordering the production of Bledsoe's pharmaceutical records from three (3) pharmacies and Bledsoe's social security disability records from the Social Security Administration in advance of trial. ECF No. 179. Counsel for Bledsoe, Jeffrey Simpkins orally conferred his opposition to the requests to Lester's counsel. Id. at ¶ 2.

         As grounds for the motion, Lester states Bledsoe's “competency and credibility are at issue.” Id. at ¶ 8. Specifically, the motion alleges that these records will demonstrate the basis for Bledsoe's social security award as well as Bledsoe's drug usage and abuse.[1] Id. at ¶ 3. Lester's Reply Brief attaches an affidavit from Misty Lee, a clerk at Lester's Home Center stating:

(1) Bledsoe has cashed social security checks at Lester Home Center for approximately nine years which include Bledsoe's wife as payee; and
(2) Bledsoe has stated “I am crazy and have papers to prove it” and that “I have to go to the crazy doctor.”

ECF No. 184-1.

         The government also opposes issuance of the subpoena. See ECF No. 180. Regarding the social security records, the government asserts that the requested subpoena amounts to a fishing expedition, the requests are not relevant to any issue at trial, and Bledsoe's receipt of social security benefits will not overcome his competency. Additionally, the government states Bledsoe's pharmaceutical records are inadmissible as Bledsoe has no felony drug convictions that are admissable under Federal Rule of Evidence 609. Id.

         II. APPLICABLE LAW

         Rule 17(c) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides in pertinent part:

A subpoena may order the witness to produce any books, papers, documents, data, or other objects the subpoena designates. The court may direct the witness to produce the designated items in court before trial or before they are to be offered in evidence. When the items arrive, the court may ...

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