785 F.2d 1506 (11th Cir. 1986), 84-5425, United States v. Stitzer

Docket Nº:84-5425.
Citation:785 F.2d 1506
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Robert Alan STITZER, and Glen Hollingsworth, Noel Van Wormer, a/k/a Noel Cobb, Richard Perna, Pedro Alfonso Sanchez-Paz, Jonathan Scott Baldwin, Defendants- Appellants.
Case Date:April 07, 1986
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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785 F.2d 1506 (11th Cir. 1986)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Robert Alan STITZER, and Glen Hollingsworth, Noel Van

Wormer, a/k/a Noel Cobb, Richard Perna, Pedro

Alfonso Sanchez-Paz, Jonathan Scott

Baldwin, Defendants- Appellants.

No. 84-5425.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

April 7, 1986

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George E. Becker, Chicago, Ill., for Hollingsworth, Stitzer and perna.

Blas E. Padrino, Coral Gables, Fla., for Sanchez-Paz.

John F. O'Donnell, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for Baldwin.

Steve LeClair, Lurana Snow, Nancy L. Worthington and Stephen A. LeClair, Asst. U.S. Attys., Miami, Fla., for U.S.

Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before HILL and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges, and TUTTLE, Senior Circuit Judge.

TUTTLE, Senior Circuit Judge:

This criminal appeal involves five appellants, Jonathan Scott Baldwin, Pedro Alfonso Sanchez-Paz, Richard Perna, Glen Hollingsworth, and Robert Stitzer.

On September 7, 1983, appellants and eight other persons were charged in a thirty-five count indictment by a federal grand jury. Count I charged all of the defendants with conspiracy to possess multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 846. Appellant Jonathan Scott Baldwin was also charged in twelve counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(a)(1) (Counts 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 14, 18, 19, 23, 26, 29, and 34); ten counts of distribution of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(a)(1) (Counts 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 15, 20, 24, 27, and 30), and a single count of transporting a firearm in interstate commerce for the purpose of facilitating the possession for distribution of cocaine (Count 35). Appellant Perna was charged in a single substantive count of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(a)(1) (Count 13). Appellant Sanchez-Paz was charged in four counts of possession with intent to distribute and three counts of distribution of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 842(a)(1) (Counts 16, 17, 19, 20, 22, 23, and 24). Appellant Hollingsworth was charged in four counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(a)(1) (Counts 18, 25, 28 and 31). Appellant Stitzer faced one count of possession with intent to distribute and another count of distribution of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841(a)(1) (Counts 32 and 33). Defendant Marte was charged with seven counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Counts 10, 13, 18, 21, 25, 28 and 31). Defendant Jones was charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine (Counts 25 and 28). Defendant Van Wormer was charged with three counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine; all in violation of 21 U.S.C. Sec. 842(a)(1)(Counts 28, 31, and 34).

A jury trial commenced on April 16, 1984 and concluded on May 7, 1984. The jury found Sanchez-Paz and Perna guilty on all counts, Hollingsworth guilty of conspiracy and two of the substantive counts of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, but was unable to reach a verdict on the other two substantive counts. The jury found appellant Stitzer guilty of only the conspiracy charge. Appellant Baldwin pled guilty to four counts but subsequently tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea. We affirm each appellant's conviction.

The evidence at trial warrant the jury's finding of the following facts, which are discussed as to each appellant.

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In approximately March of 1979, Jonathan Scott Baldwin began to expand his cocaine distribution network. In the initial stage of the conspiracy, Baldwin met in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with Owens Samuel Roberts, who, together with his partners, James Marte and Richard Perna, had been engaged in the distribution of marijuana through an auto dealership, P & M Motors in Downer's Grove, a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. At the meeting, Roberts explained that he and his partners wanted to expand into the cocaine business. He then purchased a pound of cocaine from Baldwin for between $24,000 and $26,000. Roberts took the cocaine back to Chicago, where he broke the package down into ounces, distributed it, and shared the profits with Marte and Perna.

After this initial transaction, Roberts made approximately fifteen additional trips to Fort Lauderdale to purchase cocaine from Baldwin. Usually, he received a pound of cocaine on each trip, and until the termination of their association in 1980, Roberts always split his profits with Marte and Perna, who occasionally provided Roberts with vehicles to travel from Chicago to Fort Lauderdale to pick up their cocaine. On his visits to Fort Lauderdale, Roberts sometimes stayed at a Howard Johnson Motel, located on Commercial Boulevard and North Federal Highway. His visits from September 14 to September 16, 1979; December 2 to December 3, 1979; March 27 to March 29, 1980; June 3 to June 4, 1980; and June 30 to July 1, 1980, each resulted in Roberts making cash payment to Baldwin for the previous shipment and obtaining a new delivery, generally of a pound of cocaine.

Roberts was one of a number of couriers employed by this network of distributors. In the summer of 1980, William Edward Jackson began his participation as a courier by taking eight ounces of cocaine from Baldwin to distribute in Connecticut. Upon his return to Fort Lauderdale, Jackson gave Baldwin $12,000 from the sale of that cocaine. Through his participation in the cocaine distribution network, Jackson came to know other couriers, such as Sam Roberts, who was making trips approximately once a month.

Roberts also met Jack Moncrief in the spring of 1980 at Baldwin's house when Moncrief was there to pick up a quantity of cocaine. Moncrief's involvement with the network dated back to 1978. At that time, he began purchasing cocaine from Baldwin four ounces at a time. He then resold the cocaine. The course of dealings was for Baldwin to advance Moncrief the cocaine at a price of $1,600 an ounce, and for Moncrief to take it back to his home in Houston. In approximately ten days, Moncrief would return to make the payment due and to obtain a new supply of cocaine. By his third or fourth trip, Moncrief began picking up a pound of cocaine on each trip. During the following ten years, he exchanged money for cocaine with Baldwin every two days to two weeks.

In the fall of 1980, Baldwin sent Jackson to Houston, Texas to deliver a pound of cocaine to Moncrief and an associate. Later that same year, Jackson made several trips to Chicago to deliver cocaine and pick up money from Perna and Marte at P & M Motors. On the first of these trips, Perna handed Jackson a package of money for Baldwin. On the second trip, Jackson delivered a pound of cocaine to Marte after driving to Chicago from Baldwin's residence in Fort Lauderdale in an automobile provided by Marte and Perna through their dealership. On the second trip, Marte examined the package from Jackson and rejected it because it did not appear to be of high enough quality.

Marte and Jackson then flew back to Fort Lauderdale to meet with Baldwin. Baldwin subsequently pressed the package of cocaine to make it appear to be of higher quality, and returned it. Now satisfied with the quality, Marte returned with the cocaine to Chicago.

On December 5, 1980, Baldwin sent Jackson and Moncrief to New Orleans by car. Once there, Moncrief flew on to Las Vegas with a pound of cocaine. Meanwhile, Jackson

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drove on to Hammond, Louisiana, where he left four ounces with Bill McConnell for further distribution. Jackson then went to Fayetteville, Arkansas where he was arrested while delivering eight ounces to several undercover police officers. Similarly, Jack Moncrief was arrested in Las Vegas while delivering Baldwin's pound of cocaine to undercover Las Vegas police officers.

On October 11, 1981, Stuart McLean met Frank Mirdjani at Miami International Airport. McLean took Mirdjani to Baldwin's residence, where Mirdjani purchased approximately four ounces of cocaine, which he took to Houston for further distribution. This transaction marked Mirdjani's first involvement in the conspiracy. He continued to work for Baldwin through August, 1982 when the conspiracy terminated.

On October 25, 1981, Mirdjani returned to Fort Lauderdale with the payment for the four ounces he had previously received. Baldwin, then introduced him to Marte and the three discussed their respective interest in the cocaine conspiracy. The next day, Mirdjani returned to Houston with another three to four ounces of cocaine which he delivered to Roy Marshall and Hugh Ivy. The following week, he again returned to Fort Lauderdale. This time, Baldwin introduced him to Bernie Marleau at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. Marleau admitted exchanging a boat known as the "French Touch" with Baldwin for a kilogram of cocaine, which Marleau exported to Canada.

In early November, 1981, Mirdjani and Baldwin travelled to Chicago with three kilograms of cocaine. The following day, they delivered the cocaine to Marte, Perna and Howard Jones at P & M Motors, where they were given an automobile bearing the dealership's license plate. Later, Marte delivered $100,000 to their hotel in payment for the cocaine.

Later that month, Baldwin and Mirdjani returned to Chicago. Marte met them at the airport and drove them to P & M Motors. There, they delivered cocaine to Perna, who, together with Marte and Baldwin, took it to the back room for storage. The following day, Mirdjani was again provided with a dealer car for his return trip to Houston.

In February or March of 1982, Baldwin visited Mirdjani in Houston. They delivered a pound of cocaine to...

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