United States v. Hebron

Decision Date10 August 2022
Docket NumberCRIMINAL ELH-08-086
PartiesUNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. MICHELLE HEBRON, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maryland

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.

MICHELLE HEBRON, Defendant.

CRIMINAL No. ELH-08-086

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 10, 2022


MEMORANDUM OPINION

Ellen L. Hollander United States District Judge

Michelle Hebron was one of 28 defendants indicted in February 2008. ECF 1.[1] Hebron was charged in Count One with conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d). Pursuant to a Plea Agreement (ECF 920), Hebron pled guilty to Count One on April 1, 2010. ECF 915. The Plea Agreement was tendered pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C), by which the parties agreed to a term of imprisonment ranging between 300 and 360 months. ECF 920, ¶ 5. At sentencing on June 23, 2010 (ECF 1021), Judge William D. Quarles, Jr., to whom the case was then assigned, found that Hebron's conduct established that he “murdered David Leonard Moore.” ECF 1765-4 (Sentencing Tr.) at 25. The court sentenced Hebron to 360 months of imprisonment. See ECF 1024 (Judgment).[2] He is currently incarcerated at FMC Carswell. See, e.g., ECF 1765-7.

While self represented, Hebron filed correspondence seeking a sentence reduction, as well as relief under Section 404 of the First Step Act of 2018. ECF 1616; ECF 1633. Through

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appointed counsel (see ECF 1655; ECF 1686), Hebron has filed a “Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Motion for Compassionate Release Under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(1)(a)(i) and Sentence Reduction Under Section 404 of the First Step Act.” ECF 1762. I shall refer to ECF 1616, ECF 1633, and ECF 1762 collectively as the “Motion.” The Motion is supported by numerous exhibits. ECF 1765.

The government opposes the Motion (ECF 1819), and has filed exhibits. ECF 1819-1 to ECF 1819-3. Hebron has replied. ECF 1826 (the “Reply”). Hebron also provided an “updated summary” from a social worker who has been evaluating him. ECF 1828.

In ECF 1819, the government did not address the First Step Act. Therefore, the Court directed the government to do so. ECF 1865. Thereafter, the government filed a supplemental response indicating its position regarding Hebron's eligibility under § 404 of the First Step Act. ECF 1866. I shall refer to ECF 1819 and ECF 1866 collectively as the “Opposition.” Hebron filed a supplemental reply. ECF 1869.

No hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny the Motion.

I. Factual Background[3]

A.

On February 21, 2008, a grand jury in the District of Maryland returned a 20-count Indictment as to Hebron and 27 codefendants. ECF 1 (the “Indictment”).[4] However, Hebron was named only in Count One, which charged conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity, in

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violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d). ECF 1; see ECF 1765-1 at 2-29.

In particular, Count One alleged, inter alia, that Hebron was a member of Tree Top Piru (“TTP”), a “subset” or subdivision of the Bloods gang. ECF 1765-1 at 3, 4-5, ¶¶ 2, 12. According to the Indictment, Hebron and his codefendants conspired to conduct the affairs of TTP through a pattern of racketeering activity. Id. at 8-10, ¶ 19.

Count One enumerated 117 overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy. Id. at 11-29, ¶ 25. With respect to Hebron, the Indictment alleged that he murdered David Leonard Moore; participated in the shooting of a TTP member who was believed to be cooperating with law enforcement; and communicated with, and provided funds to, codefendant Steve Willock, a TTP leader. Id. at 15-23, ¶¶ 25(22), (23), (28), (31), (39), (83). Other alleged overt acts of the conspiracy included the murders of Terrance Williams, id. at 11, ¶ 25(1), and Lamont Jackson, id. at 12, ¶ 25(3), and possession with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine base, including at quantities of 50 grams or more. See, e.g., id. at 15-17, ¶ 25(24), (32), (34).

Other counts of the Indictment charged Hebron's codefendants with possession with intent to distribute and distribution of cocaine base under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 and 846, as well as conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute, with some counts involving quantities of 50 grams of more. See id. at 30-33, 35-36, 39, 41, 44-45, 47-48. But, Hebron was not charged with any offense under 21 U.S.C. §§ 841 or 846, and none of the overt acts in Count One with respect to cocaine involved Hebron.

On April 1, 2010-the first day set for trial-Hebron entered a plea of guilty to Count One of the Indictment. ECF 915. As noted, the plea was entered pursuant to a Plea Agreement tendered under Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(c)(1)(C). ECF 920. The Plea Agreement listed the following elements of the offense to which Hebron agreed to plead guilty: that the criminal enterprise set out in the

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Indictment existed; that the enterprise affected interstate or foreign commerce; that Hebron was associated with or employed by the enterprise; that the enterprise engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity; and that Hebron unlawfully, willingly, and knowingly conspired with two or more persons to conduct and participate in the affairs of that enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity. ECF 920, ¶ 2.

The Plea Agreement specified that the maximum statutory penalty was life imprisonment. Id. ¶ 3. The parties agreed to a base offense level of 43, because Hebron's underlying racketeering activity involved first degree murder. Id. ¶ 6(a). They also contemplated a two-level deduction for acceptance of responsibility, and a final adjusted offense level of 41. Id. ¶ 6(b). And, as mentioned, the parties stipulated to a term of imprisonment ranging between 300 and 360 months. Id. ¶ 9.

The Plea Agreement included a lengthy stipulation of facts. Id. at 9-16. The stipulation recounted the history, practices, and slang of TTP. Id. at 9-11. TTP originated in California as a subset of the Bloods gang, but later spread to other states, including Maryland. Id. at 9. In Maryland, TTP has its roots in a local gang named Trey 8, which began in the Washington County Detention Center in Hagerstown, Maryland in or about 1999. Id. In 2000, Trey 8 changed its name to “Insane Red Devils/Tree Top Piru,” before making contact with TTP members from California in 2005, ultimately changing its name to TTP. Id. And, a group of female gang members formed a subset of TTP, known as Tree Top Pirettes. Id. In order to join TTP, potential members were required to complete an initiation process that sometimes involved “missions,” meaning “violent acts such as robberies, assaults, or carjackings.” Id. at 11.

TTP, including its leadership, members, and associates, constituted an “enterprise” as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1961(4), i.e., “a group of individuals associated in fact that engaged in, and

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the activities of which affected, interstate and foreign commerce.” ECF 920 at 11. The purposes of this enterprise included “[p]reserving and protecting the power, territory and profits of the enterprise through the use of intimidation, armed robberies, violence, including assaults and murder, threats of violence, and narcotics trafficking;” promoting and enhancing the enterprise and the activities of its members and associates, both in and out of prison, through the use of intimidation, violence, threats of violence, and narcotics trafficking; keeping victims and potential victims in fear of the enterprise, and its members and associates, through violence and threats of violence; providing financial support and information to gang members, including those incarcerated for committing acts of violence or other offenses; and “[p]roviding assistance to other gang members who committed crimes for and on behalf of the gang in order to hinder, obstruct and prevent law enforcement from identifying,” apprehending, trying, and punishing the offenders. Id. at 12.

Hebron, “a member of the TTP Bloods,” together with others, did knowingly conspire to conduct and participate, directly and indirectly, in the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise (i.e., TTP) through a pattern of racketeering activity. Id. Hebron agreed that “a conspirator would commit at least two acts of racketeering activity in the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise.” Id.

The stipulation enumerated various examples of “gang-related communications” involving Hebron. Id. at 13; see id. at 13-14. These communications generally involved codefendant Steve Willock, a TTP leader. Id. at 9, 13-14. For example, in a letter to Willock postmarked April 21, 2007, Hebron referred to himself as “‘the sharpest Tamu,'” meaning a female Bloods member, “‘bred'” or initiated by Willock. Id. at 13. In a letter postmarked April 23, 2007, Hebron wrote to Willock asking for information, including Hebron's “‘status and offisialness [sic], [his] rank and all of that,'” prior to Hebron going to “‘hook up with [Hebron and Willock's] big homies in

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bodymore.'” ECF 920 at 13. Hebron closed this letter by stating, id.: “‘Yes, I kill, die, ride, live and bang for you 100%.'” The next day, Hebron wrote to Willock to confirm TTP rules as Hebron understood them. Id. In a letter dated May 2, 2007, Willock wrote to Hebron, stating in part, id. at 14: “‘You must remember it was me who asked you to come into my house of Trees.'”

On May 5, 2007, Hebron wrote to Willock, telling him, id.: “‘Look, I'm ready to put in my work for the family and prove myself.'” Hebron also asked Willock not to “‘stop looking at'” Hebron “‘as a potential leader.'” Id. On or about May 30, 2007, Hebron asked Willock for clarification as to colors worn by TTP, wrote that he expected to be appointed TTP leader in Annapolis, and stated, id.: “‘Sure murder is necessary but positivity is powerful ..... I will chew a nig** up [then] go to McDonald's and eat a double cheese burger like it's nothing you dig.'”

In a letter dated June 25, 2007, Hebron told Willock that he had just returned from a meeting of TTP members. Id. And, in a letter...

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