441 F.3d 1162 (10th Cir. 2006), 03-3368, United States v. Apperson

Docket Nº:03-3368, 03-3369.
Citation:441 F.3d 1162
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Clyde APPERSON, Defendant-Appellant. United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. William Leonard Pickard, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:March 28, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

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441 F.3d 1162 (10th Cir. 2006)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Clyde APPERSON, Defendant-Appellant.

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


William Leonard Pickard, Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 03-3368, 03-3369.

United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit

March 28, 2006


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Mark L. Bennett, Jr., Bennett and Hendrix L.L.P., Topeka, KS, for defendant-appellant, Clyde Apperson.

William K. Rork, Rork Law Office, Topeka, KS, for defendant-appellant, William Leonard Pickard.

Gregory G. Hough, Assistant United States Attorney (Eric F. Melgren, United States Attorney, and James A. Brown, Assistant United States Attorney, with him on the briefs), District of Kansas, for plaintiff-appellee.

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Before BRISCOE, ANDERSON, and MURPHY, Circuit Judges.

BRISCOE, Circuit Judge.

Defendants Clyde Apperson and William Pickard were convicted, following a jury trial, of conspiring to manufacture, distribute and dispense ten grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846, and possession with intent to distribute and dispense ten grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of LSD, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A). Apperson was sentenced to 360 months' imprisonment. Pickard was sentenced to life imprisonment. Both defendants now appeal their convictions and sentences. We exercise jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291 and affirm.


Factual background

In October 2000, Gordon Todd Skinner voluntarily contacted the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and informed them he "wished to cooperate" and provide them with "information about an LSD organization." ROA, Vol. 13 at 84. Generally speaking, Skinner told the DEA "that William Leonard Pickard and Clyde Apperson were . . . partners" in an organization that manufactured LSD and that he, Skinner, "had been part of the organization . . . and was [at that time] in possession of the laboratory equipment," ROA, Vol. 5, Doc. 360 at 3, "at a decommissioned missile base near Wamego, Kansas that he owned." Id. at 4.

Skinner proceeded to provide the DEA with more detailed information about the organization and his involvement. According to Skinner, Pickard and Apperson first established an LSD laboratory in an Aspen, Colorado residence in late 1996. Pickard, who had studied chemistry at Purdue University, served as the chemist. Apperson was responsible for setting up and dismantling the necessary laboratory equipment.

In September 1997, Pickard and Apperson moved the LSD laboratory from Aspen to a house in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Apperson assembled the laboratory at that location and Pickard proceeded to manufacture LSD there until approximately September 1999. During that time frame, Pickard obtained many of the chemicals and most of the necessary glassware from Alfred Savinelli, the owner of a business in Taos, New Mexico called "Native Scents." Pickard paid Savinelli over $300,000 from 1995 to 1999 for his help in obtaining the chemicals and glassware.

Skinner became involved with Apperson and Pickard in February 1998. Skinner assisted Pickard in laundering the cash proceeds of the conspiracy, and also played a major role in developing the covert communications scheme utilized by the conspirators. As Pickard's "money man," Skinner assisted Pickard "in the transport of money from the primary distributor to the persons whom . . . Pickard intended it to go, those being the [precursor chemical] source and other persons within the organization." ROA, Vol. 14 at 214.

In mid to late 1999, Pickard asked Skinner "to secure a location to house the clandestine [LSD] laboratory." Id. Initially, Pickard wanted the location to be elsewhere in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pickard subsequently directed Skinner "to find a location either in Nevada or Kansas." Id. In September 1999, Apperson and Pickard dismantled the Santa Fe LSD laboratory and, in December 1999, moved it to an abandoned missile base near Salina, Kansas, where it was maintained by Skinner. In the fall of 2000, Skinner, apprehensive

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that the owners of the base were going to discover the laboratory, unilaterally decided to move it, along with a precursor chemical, to the Wamego missile base. In turn, Skinner was supposed to turn over possession of the laboratory and the precursor chemical to Apperson and Pickard.

After corroborating much of the information provided by Skinner, the DEA initiated an undercover operation with Skinner on October 19, 2000. At the outset of this undercover operation, the DEA recorded various phone calls between Skinner and Pickard. On October 23, 2000, at the DEA's request, Skinner met Pickard in a hotel room in Marin County, California. During the meeting, which was videotaped by the DEA, Pickard and Skinner discussed the LSD laboratory and the idea of moving it from its Wamego location. Pickard advised Skinner that he wanted Apperson to take possession of the laboratory equipment.

On October 27, 2000, Skinner gave DEA agents a tour of the Wamego missile base. During the tour, DEA agents observed "the contents of a non-operational LSD laboratory packed in approximately [forty-five] large, green shipping containers." ROA, Vol. 5, Doc. 360 at 4. The DEA agents subsequently obtained and executed a search warrant for the base. Among the items seized during the search were 6.5 kilograms of a substance determined to be ergocristine, a substance used in the manufacture of LSD.

Following the search, DEA agents continued to monitor phone conversations between Skinner and Pickard. Pickard eventually told Skinner that he was coming to see the Wamego laboratory and to make sure that the ergocristine was secure. On November 2, 2000, Pickard and Apperson flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma. On November 4, 2000, Pickard and Apperson drove to Wamego in a rental car and met Skinner near the missile base.

During the meeting on November 4, 2000, Pickard and Apperson expressed to Skinner their concern about storing the laboratory equipment at the Wamego missile base. Pickard and Apperson also expressed concern about their own safety if the laboratory equipment and ergocristine were not returned to them. Ultimately, Pickard and Apperson began making plans to move the laboratory equipment and ergocristine out of the Wamego missile base.

That same day (November 4, 2000), Pickard and Apperson rented a truck in Topeka, Kansas, and listed a return destination for the truck as Albuquerque, New Mexico. The pair then drove the truck to the Wamego missile base and began loading it with lab equipment. On November 6, 2000, the ergocristine was returned by the DEA to the base, unbeknownst to Pickard and Apperson. That same day, Skinner informed Pickard and Apperson where the ergocristine was located on the base. Pickard retrieved the ergocristine and left the base with it in the rental car. Apperson also left the base driving the rental truck loaded with lab equipment.

As Pickard and Apperson left the base, Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) officers, acting at the request of the DEA, attempted to stop the rental car and truck. Pickard and Apperson, however, refused to stop and instead increased their speed. Eventually, the KHP officers forced Pickard and Apperson to stop by pulling in front of the rental truck driven by Apperson. Apperson was removed from the truck and taken into custody. Pickard fled from the scene on foot after letting the rental car roll to a stop in a ditch. Pickard was arrested the following day. The ergocristine was found in the rental car that Pickard had been driving. Also found in the rental car was a recipe for the manufacture of LSD and notes regarding what appeared to be past production quantities.

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The DEA obtained search warrants for the missile base, which they executed on November 17 and 22, 2000. The execution of the warrants took several days due to the volume of materials and the danger posed by the chemical substances. During the searches, the DEA found numerous items and equipment associated with an LSD laboratory, as well as various chemical substances including 41.3 kilograms of LSD, 97.5 kilograms of lysergic acid, and 23.6 kilograms of iso-lysergic acid. The DEA also tested a large patch of dead grass found outside one of the buildings on the base. The soil samples tested positive for LSD, iso-LSD, and lysergic acid. [1

Procedural background

On November 8, 2000, Pickard and Apperson were indicted on one count of conspiring "to manufacture, distribute and dispense 10 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), a Schedule I controlled substance, in violation of" 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846. ROA, Vol. 1, Doc. 1 at 1-2. Two superseding indictments were subsequently returned: the first on January 17, 2001, and the second on June 20, 2001. The first superseding indictment retained the original conspiracy count and added a second count alleging that on November 6, 2000, Pickard and Apperson knowingly possessed...

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