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United States v. Workman

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

May 2, 2019

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

          James P. Jones United States District Judge Lena L. Busscher, Assistant United States Attorney, Abingdon, Virginia, for United States.

          Timothy W. McAfee, The McAfee Law Firm, Big Stone Gap, Virginia, for Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          James P. Jones United States District Judge.

         A jury convicted the defendant, Shade Carlton Workman, of making false statements to the FBI, soliciting and accepting a bribe as a member of an agency that receives federal funds, and obstructing justice. Workman has moved for acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, arguing that the government's evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for making false statements and federal program bribery. In particular, Workman contends that the government failed to prove that the value of the services he provided in exchange for the bribe was $5, 000 or more, a necessary element of the federal program bribery charge. For the reasons that follow, I will deny his motions.

         I.

         The following facts were presented at trial and are recited in the light most favorable to the government.

         As a Special Agent for the Virginia State Police, Workman supervised and served as a member of the Tazewell County Drug Task Force. In March or April of 2016, Workman and other members of the task force met with KK, who had been arrested for shoplifting and was being held without bond. It was agreed that the task force would secure her release on bond, and in return, she would work for them as a confidential informant purchasing drugs from local drug dealers. After the meeting, KK was released on a $5, 000 unsecured bond. KK testified that being released was important to her because it allowed her to be with her two children. She also stated that she couldn't put a price on the value of being with her children.

         Following her release on bond, KK began working as a confidential informant for the task force. After one of her first controlled buys, she and Workman left the location of the buy together in his truck. Workman stopped the truck in a parking lot, where he made sexual advances on KK and told her that as long as things went well, she would be able to stay home with her children. KK understood his statement to mean that if she engaged in sexual activity with Workman, he would prevent her bond from being revoked. KK had sexual relations with Workman approximately 15 times during the period in which she was a confidential informant because she believed that he had control over her continued release on bond. At the end of her cooperation with the task force, its members spoke to the prosecuting attorney on her behalf and advocated for her lenient treatment.

         Workman was later arrested and charged with, among other things, making false statements to the FBI (Count One), soliciting or accepting a bribe as an agent of an agency that receives federal funds (Count Two), using a facility in interstate commerce with the intent to carry on bribery (Count Five), obstructing justice by hindering the communication of a federal crime to law enforcement (Count Nine), and obstructing justice by altering, destroying, or concealing a record with the intent to impede the investigation of a matter within the jurisdiction of the FBI (Count Twelve).[1]

         At the conclusion of the government's case in chief, Workman made an oral motion for a judgment of acquittal pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, arguing that the government failed to prove a necessary element of Count Two. I reserved decision on the motion, Fed. R. Crim. P. 29(b), and the jury thereafter found the defendant guilty of Counts One, Two, and Twelve. Following the jury's verdict, Workman filed a written motion for a judgment of acquittal, challenging the basis of his conviction on Count One and restating his argument regarding Count Two.[2] Workman's oral motion has been briefed and is ripe for decision.[3]For the reasons discussed below, I will also dispose of Workman's written motion.

         II.

         A.

         Following the jury's verdict on March 22, 2019, I entered an order requiring that any additional motions for judgment of acquittal be made no later than April 5, in accord with Rule 29(c)(1). Workman filed his second Motion for Acquittal, which addressed Count One in addition to his earlier arguments regarding Count Two, on April 12.

         I may extend the time for filing if a defendant failed to file a motion for judgment of acquittal by the deadline due to excusable neglect. Fed. R. Crim. P. 45(b)(1). “In determining whether a party has shown excusable neglect, a court will consider: (1) the danger of prejudice to the non-moving party; (2) the length of delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings; (3) the reason for the delay; and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith.” Colony Apartments v. AbacusProject Mgmt., Inc., 197 Fed.Appx. 217, 223 (4th Cir. 2006) (unpublished). The reason for the delay is the most important factor. Id. “A party that fails to ...


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