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United States v. McNall

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Harrisonburg Division

January 11, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
MEGAN MARIE MCNALL, Defendant.

          REPORT & RECOMMENDATION

          JOEL C. HOPPE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This case was referred to the undersigned magistrate judge for the purpose of conducting a felony guilty plea hearing. This report and recommendation is submitted to the presiding district judge under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(3). The defendant waived her right to plead before a United States District Judge and consented to proceed before the undersigned magistrate judge.

         On January 11, 2018, the defendant appeared with counsel before the magistrate judge, who personally addressed the defendant and admonished her pursuant to Rule 11(b)(1)(A)-(O) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Discussing the district judge's role of determining a sentence, the Court explained to the defendant that the sentencing range under the Sentencing Guidelines, which are advisory, not mandatory, would not be determined until a presentence report is written and a sentencing hearing held, that the district judge had the authority to impose a sentence more or less severe than called for in the guidelines, and that the sentence the defendant receives may be different than any estimate given by her attorney. The Court also admonished the defendant that if the district judge does not accept a recommendation set forth in the plea agreement, the defendant will still be bound by her plea and will have no right to withdraw it. The defendant stated that she understood the Court's admonishments. The attorney for the Government stated the essential terms of the plea agreement, which has been filed with the Court, and the defendant and her counsel agreed that those in fact were the terms of the agreement. The defendant further stated that she had read the plea agreement and understood it. Accordingly, the undersigned finds that the defendant understands the charge to which she is pleading guilty and that her plea was knowingly made. Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(1).

         The Court also addressed the defendant personally as to her competency to plead and the voluntariness of her plea, specifically whether it resulted from force, threats, or promises other than promises made in a plea agreement or in open court.[1] Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(2). Based on this discussion, the undersigned found the defendant to be sufficiently competent to enter a plea, that she desired to plead guilty, and that her plea was voluntary.

         The government presented a statement of facts, which has been filed with the Court, regarding the offense to which the defendant pleaded guilty. The defendant testified that she read the statement of facts and discussed it with her attorney. The attorney for the Government also proffered certain facts at the plea hearing. The defendant agreed that the statement of facts and the government attorney's proffer were accurate and did not contest those facts. The statement of facts and proffer present the following The defendant was part of the “Chris” conspiracy, whose members distributed one kilogram of a substance containing heroin each week. The conspiracy operated out of Baltimore, Maryland beginning as early as 2013. Antwan Cottman, Sheldon Berry, Antwan Lucas, and Marcus Henderson were the principal suppliers. A second component of this conspiracy consisted of users/distributors from the Front Royal area who acquired heroin from the “Chris” conspiracy in Baltimore then used and re-distributed it.

         During two periods - from May to December 2016 and from January to March 2017, the defendant travelled with others to Baltimore to obtain heroin from others in the “Chris” conspiracy. The defendant used and distributed this heroin in Front Royal. Based on the frequency of trips and average amount of heroin obtained on each trip during these two periods, the amount of heroin from the “Chris” conspiracy that was reasonably foreseeable to the defendant was between one and three kilograms. The Defendant sold heroin to confidential informants on four occasions, and during a search of the residence she shared with her sister, Nicole McNall, law enforcement officers found a large rock of heroin; twenty-seven foil wrappers containing heroin; scales, foil, and other paraphernalia; and $1984.00 in cash.

         The defendant distributed heroin to Kaylee Meyers, who then gave it to her boyfriend, Jeffrey Pearson. Pearson used the heroin and suffered a non-fatal overdose. A rescue squad administered Narcan and took Pearson to a hospital for treatment. Without such medical intervention, Pearson's use of this heroin presented a substantial risk of death.

         The undersigned finds that these facts provide a sufficient basis for the defendant's guilty plea to the charges of conspiracy to distribute and to possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin resulting in serious bodily injury of another. Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(3).

         The defendant pleaded guilty to the offenses of knowingly and willfully conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin resulting in serious bodily injury of another, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 (referencing 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B)), as charged in Count One of the Indictment.

         The magistrate judge finds the following:

1. The defendant's guilty plea was taken by the undersigned subject to the acceptance of the plea and sentencing by the assigned district judge and after the defendant consulted with an attorney and executed oral and written waivers;
2. The defendant fully understands the nature of the charge and relevant penalties;
3. The defendant fully understands the terms of the plea agreement;
4. The defendant fully understands her constitutional and statutory rights and wishes ...

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