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United States v. Moquete

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

December 19, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
LINCOLN NORMANDO MOQUETE, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Lincoln Moquete is charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine. ECF No. 26. Pending is the government's appeal of Magistrate Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher's December 17, 2014 Order setting conditions of release. A hearing was held on December 18, 2014. For the following reasons, Judge Gallagher's Order setting conditions of release was affirmed.

I. Background

A. Facts

In March 2010, an alleged co-conspirator of the defendant was stopped by police officers on I-95 in Maryland. A canine alerted to the presence of narcotics. Officers found 13 kilograms of cocaine in the car. The cocaine was packaged into bricks and placed in bags. Moquete's fingerprints were found on the packages. The government alleges that Moquete arranged for the cocaine to be brought into the United States from the Dominican Republic; from Florida, the cocaine was transported to New York for distribution.

Moquete grew up in the Dominican Republic but is now a U.S. citizen living in Florida. Moquete has lived in the United States for 26 years. He and his wife have been married for 24 years, and have three children who are all U.S. citizens living in the United States.[1] Moquete has family living in Florida, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Moquete owns a family home[2] in Florida. Moquete's sole criminal history involves a 1998 vehicle title fraud charge that was resolved through a diversion program. Pretrial Services Report ("PSR") at 1.

Moquete has held two jobs for about the past ten years. In addition to working for an air-conditioning business, Moquete is a "scout" or "agent" for young baseball players in the Dominican Republic; he helps bring them to the United States to play in the minor - and, occasionally, in the major - leagues. According to Moquete, working with young athletes accounts for his frequent trips to the Dominican Republic. From 2010 to his November 19, 2014 arrest, Moquete visited the Dominican Republic about 45-50 times; 16 of those visits occurred in 2014.

B. Procedural History

On August 19, 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Moquete for conspiracy to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846, and for possession with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841 (a) (2).[3] ECF No. 26. On November 19, 2014, Moquete was arrested. ECF No. 35. That same day, Moquete was detained by consent. ECF No. 36. On December 17, 2014, Judge Gallagher issued an Order setting conditions of release, but stayed the Order pending the government's appeal.[4] On December 18, 2014, the Court held a hearing on the government's appeal.

II. Analysis

A. Standard of Review

Magistrate Judges in the District of Maryland "are specifically designated... to perform such... duties as are not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws of the United States, " including the "[i]ssuance of orders concerning release or detention of defendants... pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3141 et seq., and Fed. R. Crim. P. 32.1, 40 and 46." Local Rule 301.6(j) (D. Md. 2014). When a defendant is released, the government "may file, with the court having original jurisdiction over the offense, a motion for revocation of the order or amendment of the conditions of release." 18 U.S.C. § 3145 (a) (1) (2012). The district court reviews the magistrate judge's pretrial detention order de novo. United States v. Clark, 865 F.3d 1433, 1436 (4th Cir. 1989).

B. The Government's Appeal

The government seeks Moquete's pretrial detention under 18 U.S.C. § 3142 (f) (1) (2012), which permits detention when the defendant is charged with "an offense for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or death, " or "an offense for which a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed in the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.)." The government asserts that detention is necessary because Moquete is a danger to the community, and a flight risk. The government relied on Moquete's ties ...


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