United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION (Denying Defendant's
Motion for a New Trial)
E. HUDSON, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Defendant, Clarence Scranage, Jr. ("Scranage"), a
physician, was convicted on August 10, 2017, by a jury in the
United States District Court of conspiracy to distribute and
dispense oxycodone, and eighteen additional counts of
distribution, and aiding and abetting in the distribution and
dispensing of oxycodone. The government called a total of
twenty witnesses, including ten co-conspirators, who vividly
laid out the modus operandi of the conspiracy, along with a
number of federal and state law enforcement officers who
participated in the investigation. The evidence revealed that
over a four-year period of time, Scranage falsely issued 1,
257 prescriptions, for a total of 223, 140 30 mg pills, which
were illicitly distributed to drug users.
evidence at trial demonstrated that Scranage utilized two
primary conduits for distribution of oxycodone to street
level dealers. These were Andrell Hill ("Hill") and
Anthony Harper ("Harper"). Both Harper and Hill
entered pleas of guilty and testified as government witnesses
at Scranage's trial. Nine additional witnesses testified
that they received prescriptions written by Scranage from
Hill and Harper. The witnesses testified that the
prescriptions for oxycodone were filled at pharmacies, sold
on the street, and the proceeds returned to Hill and Harper.
The individuals receiving the prescriptions testified that
they never had contact with Scranage, nor were they one of
case is presently before the Court on his Motion for New
Trial ("Motion", ECF No. 197) pursuant to Fed. R.
Crim. P. 33, based upon newly-discovered
evidence. The genesis of this Motion is his
contention that Harper has recanted his testimony and that
Scranage is actually innocent of the conspiracy. His claim is
based on an affidavit filed by Raymond Johnson
("Johnson"), an inmate who was once confined in the
same area of the Northern Neck Regional Jail as Harper. In
his affidavit, Johnson contends that Harper revealed to him
that he testified falsely during the trial in order to gain a
substantial sentence reduction. (Def.'s Motion New Trial,
Ex. 2, ECF No. 197-2.) The government has filed a response in
opposition, as well as a supplemental response with
supporting exhibits. Scranage has not filed a reply.
after Scranage's Motion was filed, FBI Special Agent
James R. Conner, III, one of the principal investigators in
this case, interviewed Harper. While Harper acknowledged
being housed at the Northern Neck Regional Jail with an
individual named "Ray," he denied having any
discussion with him concerning Scranage's case.
(Gov't's Suppl. Resp. Opp'n, Ex. 1, ECF No.
210-1.) Special Agent Conner allowed Harper to
review the affidavit signed by Johnson. Harper reiterated
that his testimony during the trial was truthful and that
Scranage was fully aware of his role in the conspiracy to
distribute oxycodone. "Harper recall[ed] watching
Scranage write out multiple prescriptions to various
individuals not present at the time, and not patients of
Scranage's practice." (Id.)
Agent Conner subsequently interviewed Johnson. Johnson revealed
to the agent that he was importuned by Scranage to execute
the affidavit falsely stating that Harper had recanted his
testimony. (Gov't's Suppl. Resp. Opp'n, Ex. 2,
ECF No. 210-2.) The purpose of the affidavit, according to
Scranage, was "to win" a new trial. (Id.)
Scranage assured Harper that "nothing would happen"
to him for signing the affidavit. (Id.) Johnson
conceded to the agent that he had not discussed
Scranage's case with Harper and that his contentions of
the contrary in the affidavit were "absolutely false in
their entirety." (Id.) He informed the agent
that Scranage "coached" him in drafting the
affidavit and edited the drafts. (Id.) Johnson also
admitted to the agent that Scranage offered him assistance
after his release from prison, ostensibly to elicit his
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
counseled trial courts to set a high bar in reviewing motions
for a new trial based on a witness's recantation of trial
testimony, particularly when it is the result of coercion.
United States v. Johnson, 487 F.2d 1278, 1279 (4th
Cir. 1973). Recantations of prior testimony are "looked
upon with the utmost suspicion." Wolfe v.
Johnson, 565 F.3d 140, 166 (4th Cir. 2009) (citing
United States v. Johnson, 487 F.2d at 1279).
without the testimony of Harper, the evidence introduced by
the government was more than sufficient to demonstrate
Scranage's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt as to each
count in the Indictment. Harper was one of the earliest
co-conspirators to plead guilty and concede his complicity in
the distribution scheme. Moreover, the majority of
Harper's testimony was corroborated by other witnesses.
Therefore, this Court is not convinced that Harper's
trial testimony was false.
Court must weigh Scranage's representations in connection
with this Motion in the context of his prior history of
misrepresentations and deception. In the immediate case,
Scranage received an enhancement in his U.S. Sentencing
Guidelines based upon his introduction of altered documents
during his trial in this case. FBI Special Agent Jean Wyatt,
the principal investigator in this case, testified in
rebuttal that medical records introduced into evidence by
Scranage had been significantly altered. In fact, Scranage,
who chose to represent himself despite the Court's advice
to the contrary, declined to cross-examine Agent Wyatt. This
Court is also aware that Scranage was previously convicted by
this Court in 2004 of making false statements to law
enforcement and obstruction of justice.
thorough review of the record in this case, this Court finds
no basis under Fed. R. Crim. P. 33 to grant a new trial based
on newly-discovered evidence-because there is none.
Scranage's Motion for a New Trial will be
denied. An appropriate Order will accompany this
 Scranage's initial pleading also
included a Motion for an Indicative Ruling on the Motion for
Relief that is barred by a pending appeal, pursuant to Fed.
R. Crim. P. 37(A)(3) (ECF No. 198). However, on November 9,
2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit affirmed Scranage's convictions for conspiracy to
distribute and dispense oxycodone, and multiple counts of