605 F.3d 985 (D.C. Cir. 2010), 06-3128, United States v. Wilson

Docket Nº:06-3128, 06-3131, 06-3133, 06-3136, 06-3140.
Citation:605 F.3d 985
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM:
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee v. George WILSON, also known as Shug, also known as Herman Walker, also known as Donnell Mack, Appellant.
Attorney:Richard K. Gilbert, David B. Smith, Steven R. Kiersh, and Sicilia C. Englert, appointed by the court, argued the cause for appellants. With them on the briefs were Michael E. Lawlor and Thomas J. Saunders, appointed by the court. Kristen G. Hughes, appointed by the court, entered an appearance. S...
Judge Panel:Before SENTELLE, Chief Judge, and ROGERS and KAVANAUGH, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:May 25, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 985

605 F.3d 985 (D.C. Cir. 2010)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee

v.

George WILSON, also known as Shug, also known as Herman Walker, also known as Donnell Mack, Appellant.

Nos. 06-3128, 06-3131, 06-3133, 06-3136, 06-3140.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

May 25, 2010

Argued Oct. 19, 2009.

Page 986

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 987

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 988

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 989

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 990

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 991

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 992

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 993

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 994

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 995

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 996

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 997

Appeals from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 04cr00128-18).

Richard K. Gilbert, David B. Smith, Steven R. Kiersh, and Sicilia C. Englert, appointed by the court, argued the cause for appellants. With them on the briefs were Michael E. Lawlor and Thomas J. Saunders, appointed by the court. Kristen G. Hughes, appointed by the court, entered an appearance.

Stratton C. Strand, Assistant U.S. Attorney, argued the cause for appellee. With him on the brief were Roy W. McLeese III, Elizabeth Trosman, John Dominguez, and Darlene Soltys, Assistant U.S. Attorneys.

Before SENTELLE, Chief Judge, and ROGERS and KAVANAUGH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:

A group known as the M Street Crew operated a massive drug ring in Northeast Washington, D.C. The Crew sold PCP, as well as ecstasy and some crack cocaine. From late 2002 through March 2004, the government conducted an extensive investigation of the M Street Crew's activities. As a result of the investigation, 19 defendants were charged with a variety of federal crimes. In this appeal, five of those defendants challenge their convictions and sentences. They raise numerous claims, some common to all defendants and others specific to one or more defendants. Except for one issue related to defendant Blackson's judgment as to which the government concedes error, we affirm the district court's judgments in their entirety.

I

A

We describe the facts in the light most favorable to the government, as we must in reviewing a jury verdict of guilt. United States v. Clayborne, 509 F.2d 473, 475 (D.C.Cir.1974); United States v. Alexander, 331 F.3d 116, 127 (D.C.Cir.2003). The five appellants in this case are John Franklin, William Robinson, George Wilson, Joseph Blackson, and William Simmons.

In 2002, the FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., initiated an intensive investigation of criminal activity in a four-block area around 18th Street and M Street in Northeast Washington. Officers viewed the neighborhood at the time as " an open air drug market." Mar. 28, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 95 (Officer Carlton Herndon). The air smelled of PCP, and the area was filled with broken vials. Id. at 100; id. at 40 (Officer Michael Morawski). Detectives patrolling the area could easily find bottles of PCP hidden along the edges of buildings and walkways. Id. at 100 (Officer Carlton Herndon).

During its investigation, the government uncovered a large-scale drug ring. John Franklin had a supplier outside the M Street Crew from whom he bought at least 15 to 20 gallons of PCP between 2002 and 2004. Mar. 14, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 65 (Herbert Martin). Franklin, in turn, supplied the M Street Crew primarily with liquid PCP and ecstasy pills. Mar. 22, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 73-74 (Elizabeth

Page 998

Lee); Apr. 19, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 29-30 (Roberta Moore).

Franklin's routine was generally consistent. He would obtain PCP from his supplier. Then, Franklin's common-law wife, Elizabeth Lee, would rebottle the drug into ounce and half-ounce bottles for Franklin to sell on the street or to lower-level dealers. Mar. 22, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 7 (Elizabeth Lee). Before selling his now-bottled product, Franklin employed a neighborhood woman, Monica Bell, to " test it out." Id. at 40, 43. Bell sampled Franklin's PCP about " three times a week" in exchange for occasional " free dippers," cigarettes soaked in PCP. Apr. 18, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 82, 86 (Monica Bell).

After testing, Franklin would supply the drugs to the Crew. Often, these drug transactions would occur in person. See, e.g., Apr. 27, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 85 (Omari Minnis) (" Normally I might go to him once, twice a week. Get about a ounce, two ounces." ). When Franklin was not available, however, he delegated to his lieutenants. See, e.g., Apr. 24, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 32, 38 (Ronnie Tucker); Aug. 11, 2003 Wiretap Tr. at 2-3; May 2, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 15 (Michael Abney). Franklin sold PCP to those he supplied in half-ounce bottles for $250 and ecstasy pills in ten-packs for $100. Mar. 22, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 73-74 (Elizabeth Lee); Apr. 20, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 28-29 (April Jackson).

Franklin's role was not limited to that of a supplier. At trial, other members of the Crew described Franklin as their " organizer" and " leader." Apr. 24, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 107 (Ronnie Tucker); May 2, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 10-12 (Michael Abney). Indeed, members of the Crew brought Franklin in to mediate disputes and to " keep[ ] M Street in order." May 2, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 12 (Michael Abney). Even when uninvited, Franklin often played a mediating role between Crew members. See id. at 39. When absent from 18th and M, Franklin would check in on the Crew, sometimes giving advice about their selling methods. See, e.g., Sept. 30, 2003 Wiretap Tr. at 2.

Below Franklin in the Crew's hierarchy were his three lieutenants: William Robinson, George Wilson, and Joseph Blackson. May 2, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 13-15 (Michael Abney). Those men supplied the Crew with PCP in Franklin's absence. Id. at 29; Apr. 24, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 14-15 (Ronnie Tucker). The lieutenants would " take on the situations when John [was] not around as far as money, or drugs or problems that's going on that's involved in the area, keep things intact" so as not to mess up the Crew's " money spot." May 2, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 15 (Michael Abney). Their job was " to oversee everything for the top man. To make sure everything on the block going the way that he ... would want it to be and see to it that its foot soldiers everybody taken care of, everybody straight." May 3, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 22 (Michael Abney).

William " Dee" Robinson was one of Franklin's closest friends. Mar. 23, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 22 (Elizabeth Lee). Robinson " would hold bottles" of PCP for Franklin when he was away from 18th and M, Apr. 27, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 91 (Omari Minnis), and communicated regularly with Franklin about the Crew's drug sales and supply, see, e.g., Apr. 24, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 66-67 (Ronnie Tucker); Aug. 21, 2003 Wiretap Tr. at 1. On Sundays, which Franklin spent with his family, Robinson was sometimes in charge of the Crew. See May 2, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 28-29 (Michael Abney).

George " Shug" Wilson was like a sibling to Franklin. Id. at 35. When Franklin was unavailable, he regularly referred buyers to Wilson, who sold some of the PCP

Page 999

supplied by Franklin. Id. at 29; Apr. 24, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 15 (Ronnie Tucker). Wilson played an enforcement role in the Crew; he defended its preeminence in the 18th and M area from outsiders, sometimes by force. See Sept. 27, 2003 Wiretap Tr. at 1-2; Oct. 3, 2003 Wiretap Tr. at 1, 4-6; May 3, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 34-35 (Robin Tamika Hazel) (" Shug pulled his gun out on him and made him leave.... Told him to leave from off his block. This is his block." ). Moreover, like Robinson, Wilson was sometimes in charge of the Crew in Franklin's absence. May 2, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 28-29 (Michael Abney). This authority position was apparent to onlookers; a police officer who regularly patrolled 18th and M initially took Wilson to be " in charge" of the Crew. Mar. 28, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 11, 13-14 (Officer Carlton Herndon).

Joseph " Joe Black" Blackson, Franklin's younger brother, also distributed PCP in Franklin's absence. In addition, Blackson held drugs for his brother. Apr. 24, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 17-18 (Ronnie Tucker). In his dealings with an undercover officer, Blackson equated himself with Franklin, stating that " dealing with John is just as dealing with him." Apr. 4, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 97 (Officer Donna Leftridge). Blackson was the only one of the lieutenants to be absent from the 18th and M Street area for any length of time during the investigation; he was arrested on July 29, 2003, when police found drugs in the glove compartment of his car. Apr. 12, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 60-74 (Officer Max Luis Salazar). Blackson was then incarcerated for an indeterminate period of time before returning to 18th and M. See Reply Br. at 69; Aug. 31, 2006 Sent. Hg. at 67.

Beneath Franklin's three lieutenants was a class of " foot soldiers" who made individual sales in the 18th and M area. May 2, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 18-19 (Michael Abney). Although the foot soldiers were numerous, only one foot soldier was tried with Franklin and is party to this appeal. William " Mike" Simmons was Franklin's " loyalest foot soldier." Id. at 42. Witnesses variously testified that Simmons was Franklin's " [s]idekick," " runner," " helper," " little man," and " flunky." Apr. 19, 2006 PM Trial Tr. at 44 (Roberta Moore); Apr. 27, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 88 (Omari Minnis). According to one witness, Simmons would do " [w]hatever [Franklin] told him. Sell bottles to people. If [Franklin] ... needed anything done, he'd do it." May 2, 2006 AM Trial Tr. at 43 (Michael Abney). One of Simmons' most frequent tasks was to...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP