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United States v. Jones

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 6, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
DELOYD JONES, ET AL

ORDER AND REASONS

SUSIE MORGAN, District Judge.

This is criminal action charging twelve defendants with violations of the Racketeer Influenced Corruption Organization Act ("RICO"), [1] the Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Act ("VICAR"), [2] the Federal Controlled Substances Act ("FCS"), [3] and the Federal Gun Control Act ("FGC").[4] Count 1 charges three defendants with a RICO conspiracy (the "RICO Defendants");[5] Count 2 charges all defendants with a FCS conspiracy;[6] Count 3 charges all defendants with a FGC conspiracy; Count 4 charges an individual defendant with violating the FCS; and Counts 5 through 20 charge individual RICO Defendants with various violations of the VICAR and the FGC. The non-RICO Defendants, with two exceptions, [7] move to sever Counts 2 and 3 from the remaining counts in the indictment.[8] The questions presented are (1) whether joinder is proper under Rule 8, and, if so, (2) whether severance is nonetheless warranted under Rule 14. For the following reasons, the Court finds that the counts in the indictment are united by common facts and participants, and that any potential prejudice inherent in a joint trial is insufficient to justify severance under Rule 14. The Motions are DENIED.

BACKGROUND

On September 19, 2013, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Louisiana issued a twenty-count indictment against twelve defendants.[9] Count 1 charges Deloyd Jones ("D. Jones"), Byron Jones ("B. Jones"), and Sidney Patterson ("Patterson") with membership in a criminal enterprise operating in the Eighth Ward of New Orleans known as "Ride or Die." Count 1 further charges a broad RICO conspiracy beginning in or about 2007 to distribute controlled substances and to commit murder, robbery, battery, and assault in furtherance of the conspiracy. These violent acts frequently involved the use of firearms. Count 1 contains 52 overt acts, including the murder of four individuals. Each of the non-RICO Defendants is mentioned at least once in the overt acts section of Count 1.

Count 2 charges all defendants with a conspiracy beginning in or about 2008 to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine and non-specific quantities of heroin and marijuana. Count 3 charges the defendants with a conspiracy beginning in or about 2007 to possess and use firearms in furtherance of the crimes charged in Counts 1 and 2.

Count 4 charges Ervin Spooner with possessing a non-specific amount of marijuana with intent to distribute on or about November 11, 2008.

Counts 5 through 20 charge one or more of the RICO Defendants with various violations of the VICAR and the FGC. Counts 5 through 8 stem from an incident or series of incidents that occurred on or about February 24, 2010. Count 5 charges B. Jones and Patterson with the murder of Travis Arnold in order to increase their position and status in Ride or Die. Count 6 charges the two defendants with discharging an unknown firearm which caused the death of Travis Arnold, in furtherance of the crimes charged in Counts 1 and 2. Count 7 charges B. Jones and Patterson with assaulting an individual identified as "I.R." with a dangerous weapon in order to increase their position and status in Ride or Die. Count 8 charges B. Jones and Patterson with discharge of an unknown firearm in furtherance of the crimes charged in Counts 1 and 2.

Counts 9 charges B. Jones with assaulting an individual identified as "E.A." with a dangerous weapon on or about April 29, 2010 in order to increase his position and status in Ride or Die. Count 10 charges B. Jones with discharging an unknown firearm on or about April 29, 2010 in furtherance of the crimes charged in Counts 1 and 2.

Count 11 charges D. Jones with the murder of Rodney Coleman on or about November 9, 2010, in order to increase his position and status with Ride or Die. Count 12 charges D. Jones with discharging an unknown firearm which caused the death of Rodney Coleman, in furtherance of the crimes charged in Counts 1 and 2.

Count 13 charges D. Jones and Patterson with assaulting an individual identified as "J.J." with a dangerous weapon on or about January 6, 2011 in order to increase their position and status in Ride or Die. Count 14 charges D. Jones and Patterson with discharging a known firearm on January 6, 2011 in furtherance of the crimes charged in Counts 1 and 2.

Counts 15 through 17 stem from an incident or series of incidents that occurred on or about January 17, 2011. Counts 15 charges D. Jones with the murder of Devin Hutton in order to increase his position in Ride or Die. Count 16 charges D. Jones with discharging two unknown firearms and one known firearm which caused the death of Devin Hutton, in furtherance of the crimes alleged in Counts 1 and 2. Count 17 charges D. Jones with assaulting an individual identified as "V.G." with a dangerous weapon in order to increase his position and status with Ride or Die. Count 18 charges D. Jones with discharging two unknown firearms and one known firearm in furtherance of the crimes charged in Counts 1 and 2.

Count 19 charges D. Jones and Patterson with the murder of Corey Blue on or about January 18, 2011 in order to increase their position and status with Ride or Die. Count 20 charges the two defendants with discharging an unknown firearm and a known firearm which caused the death of Corey Blue, in furtherance of the crimes charged in Counts 1 and 2.

LAW AND ANALYSIS

The instant Motions present two separate questions. The first is whether Counts 2 and 3 are properly joined with the other counts in the indictment. If so, the next question is whether joinder is so prejudicial as to warrant ...


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