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United States v. Pena-Torres

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

September 12, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
JUAN ANTONIO PENA-TORRES, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Juan Antonio Pena-Torres's ("Defendant") Motion for Revocation of Detention Order [Dkt. 14]. The Court denied the motion from the bench and now offers this Memorandum Opinion setting forth the reasons for its ruling below.

I. Background

Based on the de novo [1] hearing conducted in this matter on September 11, 2014, the Court finds the relevant facts to be as follows:

On August 18, 2014, Defendant was charged in a criminal complaint [Dkt. 1] with possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number in violation of 18 US.C. § 922(k). According to Defendant, he received the firearm as collateral for work performed on a vehicle. (Def.'s Mot. [Dkt. 14] at 5.) When the vehicle's owner failed to pay for repairs, Defendant told an acquaintance he wished to sell the firearm. ( Id. ) That acquaintance, who was a confidential source for the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), contacted law enforcement, and a time and date for sale was arranged for August 15, 2013.[2] ( Id. ) During the firearm sale, Defendant also sold fourteen grams of powder cocaine to Detective Sean McManus, an undercover officer for the Herndon (Virginia) Police Department. (Gov't's Aff. [Dkt. 2] ¶ 16.)[3]

An arrest warrant was issued for the Defendant on August 18, 2014 [Dkt. 5] and he was arrested the next day [Dkt. 6]. Defendant appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Teresa C. Buchanan on August 20, 2014 for his initial appearance. ([Dkt. 7].) Judge Buchanan granted the government's request for pre-trial detention and appointed defense counsel.

Defendant's preliminary hearing was held on August 22, 2014. ([Dkt. 9].) The pre-trial services report recommended release subject to a number of conditions. (Def.'s Mot. at 1.) One such condition was third-party custody with Glenda Lopez Cordova, Defendant's long-term companion and the mother of two of his children. ( Id. at 1.) Judge Buchanan found that there was a serious risk that Defendant would not appear for trial and would endanger the safety of the community if he were released. (Detention Order Pending Trial [Dkt. 10] at 2.) He was remanded to custody.

Defendant moved for reconsideration of his detention order. ([Dkt. 11].) He proposed his former brother-in-law as an alternate third-party custodian. (Gov't's Resp. [Dkt. 15] at 2.) The government objected on the basis of the ex-brother-in-law's criminal history. ( Id. at 2.) Judge Buchanan denied the motion. ([Dkt. 13].) Defendant then filed the instant motion on September 8, 2014. Having been briefed and argued, Defendant's motion is now properly before the Court.

II. Analysis

Pursuant to the Bail Reform Act, a judicial officer shall detain a defendant pending trial if he finds that "no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person in the community." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(1).[4] In determining whether there are release conditions that can meet that standard, the judicial officer shall consider the following factors:

(1) the nature and the circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime of violence, a violation of section 1591, a Federal crime of terrorism, or involves a minor victim or a controlled substance, firearm, explosive, or destructive device;
(2) the weight of evidence against the person;
(3) the history and characteristics of the person, including -
(A) the person's character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, ...

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