78 F.3d 1283 (8th Cir. 1996), 95-2787, United States v. Jenkins

Docket Nº:95-2787.
Citation:78 F.3d 1283
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Ronald D. JENKINS, Appellant.
Case Date:March 06, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Page 1283

78 F.3d 1283 (8th Cir. 1996)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Ronald D. JENKINS, Appellant.

No. 95-2787.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

March 6, 1996

Submitted Jan. 9, 1996.

Page 1284

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1285

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1286

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri; D.B. Bartlett, Judge.

James Ralph Hobbs, Kansas City, Missouri, argued (Marily B. Keller, on the brief), for appellant.

William L. Meiners of Kansas City, Missouri, argued, for appellee.

Before RICHARD S. ARNOLD, Chief Judge, BOWMAN, Circuit Judge, and JONES, [*] District Judge.


Ronald Jenkins appeals his convictions for conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(A), and 846, and conspiracy to commit money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 371 and 1956(a)(1)(A)(i). He argues that the convictions are not supported by the evidence presented at trial. Jenkins also appeals his sentence claiming that the District Court 1 miscalculated the drug quantity, and that he should have been granted a reduction in his sentence under U.S.S.G. § 5K2.0. We affirm both the convictions and the sentence.


This is a classic case of a network of people who chose to devote their time and energy to the distribution and sale of cocaine and cocaine base. Ronald Jenkins, the defendant, was a key member of an ongoing scheme to transport drugs from Los Angeles, California, to Kansas City, Missouri, where the drugs were distributed. The organization was responsible for over 100 kilograms of cocaine being introduced into the Kansas City drug market between 1987 and 1992.

James Jenkins, the defendant's brother, organized and ran the drug-distribution network which was supplied from Los Angeles by Shannon Thames and Reevious Henderson. Other members of the organization included Reggie House, Ronald Smith, Shawn Stubbs, and Sandy Lyles, who transported the cocaine from Los Angeles to Kansas City. Once in Kansas City, the drugs were distributed by Diamond Coleman, Keenan Hart, and others. The defendant facilitated the conspiracy in at least two ways: he allowed his home to be used as a "safe house," and he assisted in the accounting of drug proceeds, including disbursing money to the distributors and wiring money to Los Angeles.

Evidence of the defendant's performance of each of these roles is overwhelming. The testimony of co-conspirators leaves no doubt that the defendant allowed his home to be used as a "safe house" in furtherance of the conspiracy. First, he allowed the couriers to stay in his home during their trips to Kansas City. Second, large amounts of cocaine were stored in the basement of his home at his instruction. Once the cocaine was sold, couriers returned to the defendant's home with the drug proceeds, which were also stored in his basement.

The evidence that the defendant actively participated in the accounting of the drug proceeds is also compelling. On at least five occasions the defendant received drug proceeds from Hart and Coleman. The money was delivered to the defendant at his home in brown paper bags containing $1,000 bundles with the total amount received ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. The defendant stored the money in his basement. On another occasion, the defendant, with Hart, James Jenkins, and Coleman present, counted $100,000 in drug proceeds which had been stored in a garbage bag at his home. In addition to storing and counting the drug proceeds, he was also active in their disbursement. He gave money to co-conspirators when instructed to do so by James Jenkins, and he wired money from the sale of the drugs to Los Angeles. 2 He also instructed Hart on how to avoid Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements

Page 1287

when sending large sums of money via Western Union.

In January of 1993, the defendant was charged in a seven-count indictment for his drug-related activities. Following the trial, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on Count Two for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, and on Count Seven for conspiracy to conduct money laundering. He was sentenced to 15 years and 8 months' imprisonment on Count Two, and five years' imprisonment on Count Seven, to run concurrently. The defendant also must serve a five-year term of supervised release on Count Two and a three-year term of supervised release on Count Seven to run concurrently. He now appeals both his convictions and his sentence.


The defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence with regard to his drug conspiracy and money-laundering conspiracy convictions. In our review, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict. United States v. Bascope-Zurita, 68 F.3d 1057, 1060 (8th Cir.1995), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 116 S.Ct. 741, 133 L.Ed.2d 690 (1996). The verdict is given the benefit of all reasonable inferences that might have been drawn from the evidence presented. Ibid. Reversal is appropriate "only if we conclude that a reasonable fact-finder must have entertained a reasonable doubt about the government's proof of one of the offense's essential elements." Ibid.

In order to prove the existence of a conspiracy, "the government must show an agreement between at least two people and that the agreement's objective was a violation of the law." United States v. Escobar, 50 F.3d 1414, 1419 (8th Cir.1995). The existence of the agreement may be proved by either direct or circumstantial evidence. Ibid. Once the government establishes the existence of a drug conspiracy, only slight evidence linking the defendant to the conspiracy is required to prove the defendant's involvement and support the conviction. United States v. Smith, 49 F.3d 362, 365 (8th Cir.1995) (subsequent history omitted).


The defendant argues that the government failed to prove that he knew of the drug conspiracy or that he knowingly joined the conspiracy. In support of this argument he notes that there was no...

To continue reading