United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Beckley Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. BERGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Court has reviewed the United States' Objections to
Order Setting Conditions of Release (Document 333) and
the Order (Document 330) and attachments entered by
Magistrate Judge Omar J. Aboulhosn. The Court has further
reviewed the relevant exhibits, financial documents, hearing
transcripts, and Pretrial Services Report. Upon careful
review, the Court finds that the conditions ordered by the
Magistrate Judge will serve to reasonably assure the
Magistrate Judge's order details the law governing
release or detention pending trial as contained in 18 U.S.C.
§ 3142. This Court reviews that order de novo, pursuant
to 18 U.S.C. § 3145(a)(1). United States v.
Stewart, 19 Fed.Appx. 46, 48 (4th Cir. 2001)
(unpublished) (“When the district court acts on a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.”). The United
States invoked the rebuttable presumption for detention
applicable to controlled substance offenses with potential
sentences of ten or more years. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(2).
Thus, the issue is whether the Defendant has demonstrated
that there are conditions of release that would reasonably
assure his appearance at trial.
Defendant, along with eleven co-defendants, is charged with
unlawful drug distribution, conspiracy, and money laundering
offenses related to the operation of pain clinics. Defendant
Mehta is also charged with two counts of distributing and
dispensing controlled substances causing a death. The United
States did not seek to detain any of the other Defendants,
although one non-physician Defendant is serving a sentence on
an unrelated conviction.
the risk of danger to the community, the Defendant's
medical license was revoked in 2016, eliminating any
prescribing authority. There is no evidence of any
distribution of drugs outside of alleged improper
prescriptions. The United States conceded that he is not a
danger to the community during the February hearing. Thus,
the primary issue is whether the Defendant is a flight risk.
the initial hearing on February 22, 2018, the Defendant's
counsel proffered that a search warrant was executed at the
clinic in March of 2015, and he had made no attempt to flee
in the nearly three years before the initial indictment was
returned, despite awareness of the investigation. The
Defendant has two children, including a daughter with special
needs, who attend local schools. His parents live locally and
assist him financially, including assisting in financing his
defense in this case. He has travelled internationally for
vacations on three occasions but has never lived
internationally. The Defendant's father was born in
India, but the Defendant's only visit to India occurred
when he was three years old.
United States pointed out that the Defendant failed to
respond to two minor traffic infractions in 2008 and 2010,
both of which he resolved in 2011. The Pretrial Services
Report also indicated that there may be firearms in the
residence, which the Defendant said belonged to his estranged
wife and were kept in a safe to which he lacks access. The
Defendant assured the court that any firearms would be
removed prior to his release.
the second detention hearing on July 10, 2018, the
Defendant's counsel informed the Court that the
Defendant's father had serious health concerns. The
Defendant's counsel indicated that, if released on home
detention, the Defendant would reside with his parents at
their residence in the area. The United States cited
financial information submitted by the Defendant's
parents as evidence that the Defendant could access
sufficient resources to flee and stressed that the two counts
of distribution causing a death have twenty year mandatory
minimum sentences, creating an incentive to flee. The
Defendant's counsel stated that the United States had
informed him and his client very clearly that the grand jury
would be asked to return charges of distribution causing a
death and that the Defendant would be facing a life sentence.
He argued that other Defendants in this case had the means to
flee and, while not facing charges with a potential penalty
of twenty years to life, also face significant prison terms.
Defendants' parents submitted financial information
detailing their income and assets. Their net monthly income
is approximately $3, 650. They have some additional interest
income from stocks, bonds, and savings. They have significant
assets, including, stocks, bonds, and property, with total
value in the high six figures to low seven figures.
Magistrate Judge found that the Defendant could be released
under the standard conditions of release, with special
conditions including a surety bond of $500, 000, executed by
his parents and secured by 10% cash deposited with the Clerk
of the Court, monitored home detention, and residence with
his parents. The Magistrate Judge further found that the
Defendant's mother should serve as third-party custodian
United States argues that the nature of the offense, the
potential penalties, and the weight of the evidence against
the Defendant require detention. It argues that the Defendant
may not be deterred from further criminal conduct, although
it does not detail any specific criminal activity of concern.
The United States notes the Defendant's parents'
assets, as well as stating that the Defendant accrued more
than $1, 000, 000 while working at the pain clinic from
February 2013 through June 2015. In addition, the United
States indicates that the ...