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United States v. Scott

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

July 31, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CHAD SCOTT ET AL.

         SECTION “H”

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JANE TRICHE MILAZZO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court are Defendant Chad Scott's Motion to Review and Reverse Magistrate Judge's Denial of Motions to Compel and for a Bill of Particulars (Doc. 85), Motion to Dismiss the Indictment Based on Prosecutorial Misconduct (Doc. 87), and Defendant Rodney Gemar's adoption thereof (Doc. 91). For the following reasons, the Motions are DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendants Chad Scott, a former DEA special agent, and Rodney Gemar, a former DEA Task Force Officer and member of the Hammond Police Department, were charged by Superseding Indictment in May 2018 with multiple counts including falsification of government records, obstruction of justice, perjury, conspiracy, conversion of property of another by an officer of the United States, and removal of property to prevent seizure. Some of the claims against Defendants stem from the prosecution of Jorge Perralta. Scott is accused of directing Frederick Brown and others to falsely testify against Perralta. The indictment alleges that Scott induced Brown to testify that Perralta was present during certain drug transactions, when in fact Brown had never seen Perralta.

         Defendant Scott filed two motions now before this Court, which Defendant Gemar subsequently adopted. First, Defendants seek review of the magistrate judge's ruling on a Motion to Compel and for Bill of Particulars. Defendants request that this Court compel the production of case communications, Brady material, and a bill of particulars. Second, Defendants seek dismissal of the Superseding Indictment for prosecutorial misconduct. This Court will consider each motion in turn.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Review of Magistrate Judge's Order

         “A district judge may refer to a magistrate judge for determination any matter that does not dispose of a charge or defense.”[1] The district judge may reverse a ruling of the magistrate judge only upon a finding that the ruling is “clearly erroneous or contrary to law.”[2] In order to meet this high standard, the district judge must be “left with a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.”[3]

         B. Motion to Dismiss Indictment

         “[A]s a general matter, a district court may not dismiss an indictment for errors in grand jury proceedings unless such errors prejudiced the defendants.”[4] Dismissal of an indictment is appropriate only if it is established that a violation “substantially influenced the grand jury's decision to indict, or if there is ‘grave doubt' that the decision to indict was free from the substantial influence of such violations.”[5] “Whether or not prosecutorial misconduct prejudiced a defendant depends on whether it affected the grand jury's decision to indict.”[6]

         LAW AND ANALYSIS

         Defendants' arguments for the production of evidence and the dismissal of the Superseding Indictment each hinge on its belief that the government has withheld Brady information.[7] This Court will therefore consider these allegations first.

         A. Brady Violation

         Defendants believe that the government has concealed exculpatory evidence and been untruthful in its representations that all Brady material has been disclosed. Specifically, Defendants argue that the government had credible evidence in its possession that Fredrick Brown knew Jorge Perralta and had supplied illegal drugs to him. According to Defendants, Individual A contacted DEA Special Agent Mark Lusco and reported that Frederick Brown told Individual A that he did in fact know Perralta. Defendants further report that Agent Lusco contacted Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Susan Nave, who forwarded this information up the chain of command. The evidence shows that in October 2017 ASAC Nave indeed forwarded an email to the government. That communication, however, said that Individual A had contacted Agent Lusco and reported that he overheard a conversation between two other inmates, Individuals B and C, in which they stated that Brown knew Jorge Perralta. The ...


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