586 F.2d 1147 (7th Cir. 1978), 78-1094, United States v. Washington

Docket Nº:78-1094, 78-1095.
Citation:586 F.2d 1147
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Helen WASHINGTON, J. D. Richard Green, Melvin Jay Quick and Glenn C. Webb, Defendants-Appellants.
Case Date:November 15, 1978
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

Page 1147

586 F.2d 1147 (7th Cir. 1978)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Helen WASHINGTON, J. D. Richard Green, Melvin Jay Quick and

Glenn C. Webb, Defendants-Appellants.

Nos. 78-1094, 78-1095.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

November 15, 1978

Argued June 9, 1978.

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Dec. 15, 1978.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Julius Lucius Echeles, Chicago, Ill., Robert L. Ellison, Rock Island, Ill., for defendants-appellants.

John C. Carver, Asst. U. S. Atty., Springfield, Ill., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before CUMMINGS and TONE, Circuit Judges, and CAMPBELL, Senior District Judge. [*]

WILLIAM J. CAMPBELL, Senior District Judge.

Count I of a two-count indictment charged defendants-appellants J. D. Richard Green, Melvin Jay Quick, Glenn C. Webb, and Helen Washington with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute approximately 1,964 grams of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. Count II charged Green, Quick and Webb with possession with intent to distribute approximately 1.43 grams of cocaine. Following a jury trial all four defendants were found guilty as charged. We affirm the convictions.

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On August 15, 1977, a mail parcel arrived at the Miami International Airport from the Panama Canal Zone. The package was addressed to "Miss Sue Patterson, C/O Helen Washington, 1324 North 9th, Quincy, Illinois, 62301," with a return address indicating "Mr. John Stone, P. O. Box 1331, Colon, Rep. Panama." Following customary procedures for handling packages from "high risk zones" such as the Canal Zone, canine specialist Godsey of the U. S. Customs Service placed the package in a special hamper for screening. Thereafter a trained narcotics detection dog by the name of Pepper became aggressive towards the package, indicating that the package contained narcotics.

Having opened the package, Godsey found five wooden objects which he described as lamps or candle holders. Godsey then probed a lamp with a metal coat hanger, and a white powdery substance fell to the table. A field test indicated that the substance was cocaine. With the assistance of a customs inspector Godsey opened the wooden objects and discovered in each a plastic bag containing a white substance. Field tests demonstrated that these bags also contained cocaine. 1 Customs officials then contacted the Miami Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) office. Upon instructions from DEA, the package was rewrapped and restored as nearly as possible to its original condition. The package was then placed in a locked mail pouch and sent to a Postal Inspector in Springfield, Illinois.

Shortly after receiving the package, Postal Inspector Kell and a DEA agent prepared the package for a controlled delivery. Having opened the package they removed a large plastic bag which contained the five wooden objects and noted that a Panamanian newspaper dated July 25, 1977 had been used as packing. The agent then removed the plastic bags containing the cocaine from the five wooden objects. From one of the bags, he removed and weighed a five-gram sample. That sample was further divided into five one-gram portions. The agent then placed the one-gram portions in separate clear plastic bags, which were folded several times to form small packets.

The agent filled five more plastic bags with a powdery off-white coffee creamer to a volume approximating the original cocaine-filled bags, and embedded the one-gram packets in each bag. The bags were then placed in each of the wooden objects. A felt covering was placed on the bases of the objects so as to conceal the initials placed thereon by the customs inspectors. Pursuant to an order obtained from the district court, an electronic beacon transmitting device was placed in one of the wooden articles. The objects were replaced in the large plastic bag, and were repacked in the original carton with the Panamanian newspaper. The package was then rewrapped, with precautions taken to conceal any indications of tampering.

On the morning of August 23, 1977, government agents attempted a controlled delivery of the parcel to the house at 1324 North 9th Street in Quincy, Illinois. Surveillance agents were scattered throughout the neighborhood, with one agent located in a camper-truck directly across from the house. When he attempted to deliver the package, the regular letter carrier for the neighborhood found no adults at home. The carrier told two children of defendant Washington that he had a package for Sue Patterson in care of Helen Washington, and that he could only make the delivery to an adult. After leaving the residence, the carrier returned the package to a Postal Inspector.

At approximately 3:30 that afternoon defendant Washington's husband arrived at the residence and spoke with the children. About fifteen minutes later defendant Washington arrived. At about 4:15 P.M. Washington and her husband left the house and drove first to a downtown post office in Quincy, and then to the main post office on Katherine Road in Quincy. There defendant

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Washington approached a postal clerk and asked for the package. The clerk told her that the parcel had been locked up for the night and that it would be delivered on the next day. The Washingtons returned home.

At 5:15 A.M. the next day, August 24, defendants Green, Quick, and Webb checked into a motel in Quincy. Shortly after checking out at 10:39 A.M., the three drove a white over black Cadillac with Iowa license plates slowly past the house at 1324 North 9th Street. The Cadillac circled through the neighborhood and then returned to the 9th Street address, where it was parked directly in front of the house. The three men exited the Cadillac and joined defendant Washington on the porch of the house. A few minutes later, Quick and Webb left the porch and walked around all the streets in the vicinity of the house. Quick and Webb then returned and engaged in a conversation with Green and Washington near the Cadillac. Quick was observed pointing in several directions as he talked.

All four defendants went back to the porch. At about 11:10 the mail carrier arrived and announced that he had a package for Sue Patterson in care of Helen Washington. Washington identified herself and told the carrier to place the package on the porch near the door. The carrier departed, and all four defendants went inside the house, leaving the package on the porch. About ten minutes later, Green, Quick and Webb came out of the house and drove to a nearby store. While they were gone, defendant Washington came out on the porch and shoved the package with her foot across the porch. The three men returned to the house at about 11:30. On his way inside, Green picked up the package.

About five minutes later, the three men emerged from the house and got into the Cadillac. Green was carrying a black plastic bag which contained an object with the same shape and dimension as the mail parcel. The Cadillac was then driven to a nearby restaurant. The three men entered the restaurant and ate while sitting by a window directly in front of the parked Cadillac. They returned to the 9th Street residence for a brief period, and then proceeded to downtown Quincy, and from there across the Mississippi River and into Missouri. Agents followed in...

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