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United States v. Workman

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

April 3, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
SHADE CARLTON WORKMAN, Defendant.

          Thomas T. Cullen, United States Attorney, Roanoke, Virginia, and Zachary T. Lee and Lena Lockridge Busscher, Assistant United States Attorneys, Abingdon, Virginia, for United States; Timothy W. McAfee, Big Stone Gap, Virginia, for Defendant.

          OPINION

          JAMES P. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         In this criminal case, the defendant, charged with making false statements to the FBI and accepting sexual favors from women informants as bribes while a state law enforcement officer, among other crimes, moved prior to trial to exclude testimony from other women he met through his position with the Virginia State Police and solicited for sexual acts, which the government intended to introduce under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b).

         Workman filed two Motions in Limine to exclude this evidence in which he argued that the evidence was inadmissible under Rule 404(b) and Rule 403. For the reasons that follow, the motions have been denied.[1]

         I.

         On October 24, 2018, Workman, a Special Agent with the Virginia State Police, was charged in a Superseding Indictment with, among other crimes, program bribery by soliciting and accepting sexual favors from confidential informants In response to Workman's motion for the government to identify 404(b) evidence, the government provided notice that it intended to introduce evidence of Workman having sexual relationships with confidential informants other than those women specifically charged in the Superseding Indictment.[2] The government also provided notice that it intended to introduce evidence of Workman having sexual relationships and attempting to engage in sexual acts with women who were not confidential informants but who he met through his position with the Virginia State Police. In a supplemental notice of 404(b) evidence, the government identified and provided materials regarding the expected testimony of three women who were not confidential informants. As it turned out, at trial the government offered the testimony of only one such witness - G.H. I will thus limit this Opinion to G.H.'s testimony as anticipated before trial, based on her prior statements to law enforcement.

         According to the materials submitted by the government, G.H. was expected to testify that sometime between November 10 and 18, 2016, she may have sold drugs to a confidential informant for the Tazewell County Drug Task Force. On December 4, 2017, Workman arrested G.H. and questioned her at police headquarters. During this questioning, Workman asked G.H. if she would work for the drug task force as a confidential informant, and she declined. Workman then told her that if she did not work for the task force, she would be sentenced to 20 years imprisonment and would not see her children again. Workman also told G.H. that he could get her released on bond. During the questioning, Workman turned the recording equipment off when he made threatening statements to G.H.

         G.H. was released on bond. A week later, Workman came to her home unannounced and again told her that if she did not work for the task force, he would make sure she received a 20-year sentence and would not get custody of her children. He also told her that he was friends with the chief prosecutor and her probation officer. Workman then began touching her without her permission and cornered her against a wall. He unzipped his pants and forced G.H. to touch his penis. G.H. told Workman that her son would be home from school soon. Before he left, Workman asked her if she needed anything and offered her money.

         In the following two weeks, Workman came to G.H.'s home at least seven times and knocked on her door, but she did not answer. G.H. also often saw Workman's truck drive by her house.

         G.H. provided this information to FBI agents in two statements. In the first, on September 7, 2018, she told the agents about her arrest and that Workman had come to her home and made her feel uncomfortable, but she did not provide details of his conduct during that visit. In her second statement, on October 10, 2018, G.H. told the agents that she had left some information out of her first statement because she had been ashamed and afraid. G.H. then told the agents about Workman's unwanted advances during his visit to her home.

         II.

         Workman sought to exclude this evidence from trial on the grounds that it is inadmissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b). He contended that the evidence is not relevant and that any of its probative value is outweighed by the undue prejudice it will cause him. The government argued that the evidence is probative of Workman's modus operandi, motive, intent, and opportunity, and it is thus admissible under Rule 404(b).

         “Rule 404(b) prohibits evidence of other crimes or bad acts committed by the defendant if offered ‘solely to prove a defendant's bad character, but such evidence may be admissible for other purposes, such as proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.'” United States v. McLean, 581 Fed.Appx. 228, 233 (4th Cir. 2014) (unpublished) (quoting United States v. Moore, 709 F.3d 287, 295 (4th Cir. 2013)). “Rule 404(b) is a rule of inclusion, admitting all evidence of other crimes or acts except that which tends to prove only criminal disposition.” McLean, 581 Fed.Appx. at 233 (quoting Moore, 709 F.3d at 295).

         The Fourth Circuit has outlined a four-factor test that must be satisfied before a court can properly admit prior ...


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