United States v. Brown, No. 14-3754 (3d Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Brown and others were charged in a 69-count indictment with crimes related to multiple conspiracies to purchase, transport, and distribute cocaine as part of an enterprise organized by Tapia, a Virgin Islands law enforcement officer. Only Brown and Hill proceeded to trial. Although both were connected to the enterprise, there was no allegation that the two conspired with one another. Brown communicated with and helped deliver cocaine to Tapia, while Hill assisted in the subsequent transportation of the purchased cocaine. Before trial, the court observed that, “[w]hile initially there was an overarching conspiracy, there is none now. And nothing that ties the two defendants together … [o]ut of an abundance of caution,” the court decided to impanel two juries. Counsel agreed. His jury convicted Brown for using a communication to facilitate a drug crime, 21 U.S.C. 843(b); (d)(1); 18 U.S.C. 2. He was acquitted on nine other counts. The court calculated the guideline range of imprisonment as 78-97 months. Because the minimum term under the guidelines exceeded the statutory maximum sentence, the court sentenced Brown to 48 months. Brown did not object. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the use of dual juries violated Brown’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights and that the sentencing court should have solicited objections.