United States v. Knowles, 080310 FED11, 08-13339

Docket Nº:08-13339
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM
Party Name:UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. SAMUEL KNOWLES, Defendant-Appellant.
Judge Panel:BIRCH, MARCUS and BALDOCK, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:August 03, 2010
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit



SAMUEL KNOWLES, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 08-13339

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

August 3, 2010


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida D. C. Docket No. 00-00425-CR-JIC

BIRCH, MARCUS and BALDOCK, [*] Circuit Judges.


Samuel Knowles appeals his convictions and sentences for conspiracy to import cocaine and conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine. After review of the record and consideration of the parties' written submissions and oral arguments, we AFFIRM.


Federal grand juries sitting in the Southern District of Florida returned two separate indictments against Samuel Knowles, a citizen of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, charging him with multiple offenses arising out of a large-scale drug-trafficking conspiracy. In May 2000, the grand jury returned the indictment in this case ("Case 425"), which charged Knowles and eight other individuals with conspiring to import cocaine from June 1995 to April 1996, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 952(a), 960(a)(i), and 960(b)(1)(B)(ii), all in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 963 (Count 1), and conspiring to possess with intent to distribute cocaine from June 1995 to April 1996, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(A)(ii), all in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (Count 2).1 The second indictment was returned in December 2000. The indictment in that case ("Case 1091"), charged Knowles and ten other individuals with drug-trafficking offenses that occurred between 1997 and 2000. Knowles filed an application for writ of habeas corpus in Case 1091, which was ultimately successful, barring extradition on the charges in the December 2000 indictment.

On 6 February 2002, almost immediately after the grant of Knowles' habeas application in Case 1091, a provisional warrant for Knowles' arrest was issued in Case 425. The United States government formally requested Knowles' extradition in Case 425 by Diplomatic Note on 18 March 2002.2 In response thereto, a magistrate judge entered an Order of Committal on 16 December 2002, committing Knowles to custody to await extradition in Case 425. Knowles appealed the magistrate judge's committal order and filed an application for writ of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court of the Bahamas3 on the grounds that the Bahamian Attorney General's extradition request was an abuse of discretion. The Supreme Court dismissed Knowles' application in May 2003 and ordered him extradited. On 21 May 2004, while Knowles' appeal from the dismissal of his habeas application was pending, the Supreme Court issued an order upon the consent of Knowles' counsel, counsel for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Attorney General of the Bahamas, prohibiting Knowles' extradition "until all legal processes are complete in respect of both extradition applications against him." R1-84-2 at 2.

The Court of Appeal subsequently dismissed Knowles' appeal, and the Privy Council affirmed on 24 July 2006. In its order, the Privy Council noted that Knowles had filed a second application for habeas corpus on the grounds that he could not receive a fair trial in the United States due to his "kingpin" designation under the Kingpin Act, and that this application was still pending before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court set Knowles' "kingpin" habeas application for argument on 18 August 2006.

On 28 August 2006, the Minister of Foreign Affairs signed a Warrant of Surrender authorizing Knowles' extradition to the United States, pursuant to section 12(1) of the Bahamas' Extradition Act. A Schedule of Charges attached to the warrant specified that the Bahamas was surrendering Knowles to the United States on the charges set forth in Case 425, that is, conspiracy to possess with intent to supply cocaine and conspiracy to import cocaine. A 4 September 2006 diplomatic note further clarified that Knowles "was surrendered pursuant to the Warrant of Committal, dated 16th December 2002, issued by Magistrate Carolita Bethell, " and that "[t]he said Warrant was issued pursuant to the Order of Committal also dated 16th December 2002 and also made by the said Magistrate." R1-86-2 at 4.

On 28 September 2006, the Supreme Court of the Bahamas dismissed Knowles' request that he be returned to the Bahamas pending resolution of his kingpin application. Citing the Privy Council's 2005 decision in Noel Heath, Glenroy Matthew v. United States, 2005 WL 3299098 (Privy Council), in which the Privy Council had held that a habeas petition on "kingpin" grounds was "impossible, "4 the Supreme Court determined that Knowles' habeas petition was complete because, given the Privy Council's precedent, "all legitimate avenues [for pursuing his kingpin application] [had been] shut off." R1-84-2 at 53. Inasmuch as Knowles' kingpin application was "positively doomed to fail, " bringing him back to the Bahamas to complete the legal process on his application would be futile. Id. at 55-57. The court concluded that "Knowles ha[d] reached the end of the road. He, and his counsel . . . have fought a long hard fight, and with considerable credibility. But it is over. No extra time is allowed." Id. at 59.

In January 2007, Knowles moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that he was extradited in violation of the 21 May 2004 Consent Order, the Bahamian Extradition Act of 1994, 5 and the Extradition Treaty between the Bahamas and the United States.6 Specifically, he argued that because the Extradition Act prohibits a person in custody from being extradited if proceedings on a habeas corpus application are still pending, his extradition during the pendency of his kingpin application was unlawful. Because his extradition was contrary to the Extradition Act and Consent order, he argued, it violated the Extradition Treaty, which permits extradition only where the "executive authority of the Requested State in accordance with its laws, has consented" to extradition. R1-84 at 4 (citing Article 14 of the Extradition Treaty, see R1-84-2 at 105.).

The district court denied the motion on 1 March 2007. The court agreed that both the Extradition Act and the Consent Order prohibited extradition during the pendency of a habeas application, but concluded, as had the Bahamian Supreme Court in its 28 September 2006 order, that the arguments raised in Knowles' kingpin application were "undisputedly . . . moot" in light of Matthew. R1-94 at 5. Inasmuch as Knowles' "legitimate habeas proceedings ha[d] been completed, " extradition did not violate the Extradition Act or the Consent Order. Id. at 6. The district court further rejected Knowles' argument that his extradition violated the Extradition Treaty, concluding that it was "undisputed that [the Minister of Foreign Affairs' 28 August 2006 Warrant of Surrender ] was issued pursuant to the extradition requests made by the United States for the crimes charged in [Case 425], " and therefore, that "extradition was granted for prosecution of the offenses charged in [Case 425]." Id. at 7.

Prior to the district court's resolution of Knowles' motion to dismiss, the government filed a notice indicating its intent to introduce evidence related to Knowles' drug trafficking activities from the mid-1980's through 2001. Specifically, the government sought to introduce, inter alia, evidence that:

(f) In or about June 2000, at the direction of Knowles, Hanna and others attempted to deliver 1164 kilograms of cocaine and 879 pounds of marijuana to co-conspirator Jesus Alonso in Miami. United States Customs agents, however, seized the narcotics in the area of Dinner Key off the coast of Florida;

(g) On or about July 24, 2000, DEA agents seized $2, 563, 260 of Knowles' drug proceeds from co-conspirator Frank Cartwright in Miami, Florida. [Royal Canadian Mounted Police] wire intercepts revealed that Knowles communicated with Frank Cartwright after the DEA seized the drug proceeds;

(h) In or about August 2000, an airplane carrying $400, 000 in Knowles' drug proceeds departed from Opa Locka, Florida and landed in Freeport, Bahamas. When the Royal Bahamian Police Department attempted to stop co-conspirator Brian Bethel, a shootout ensued and Bethel escaped. RCMP wire intercepts captured Knowles and Bethel discuss the fact that the money had not been seized; and

(i) In or about early 2001, co-conspirator Brian Bethel forfeited $2, 422, 325 of Knowles' drug proceeds to the Royal Bahamian Police Force.

R1-91 at 5 (footnotes omitted).

The government asserted that this evidence of Knowles' post-indictment drug-trafficking activities was relevant to show Knowles' knowledge and intent as to the charged offenses and to demonstrate "how Knowles' long history in the drug trafficking community shaped his participation in the charged conspiracy." Id. at 5. This evidence, the government argued, was thus admissible both under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b)7 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and as "inextricably intertwined" evidence. Id.

Knowles objected, arguing that the wire intercepts from July 2000 that the government sought to introduce as part of its case were inadmissible because the recorded conversations concerned conduct that occurred four years after the conspiracy charged in the indictment had ended. He argued additionally that evidence of conduct that occurred in June 2000, August 2000, and early 2001, that the government sought to introduce was likewise "so far removed in time as to have no bearing on 404(b) criteria such as [Knowles'] state of mind, motive, plan, identity, or absence of mistake, in June 1995 – April 1996." R1-95 at 2. Knowles further maintained that this evidence related to the charges in the indictment in Case 1091 and thus violated the...

To continue reading