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United States v. Stewart

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

August 15, 2016

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
DANIEL STEWART, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON GOVERNMENT’S SANTIAGO PROFFER

          Hon. William T. Lawrence, Judge

         The Government submitted a Santiago proffer (Dkt. No. 110), requesting that the Court make a preliminary determination regarding the admissibility of certain statements made by Geraldo Colon pursuant to United States v. Santiago, 582 F.2d 1128 (7th Cir. 1978). Stewart has not objected to the Government’s proffer. The Court finds that if the Government produces the proffered evidence at trial, it will have satisfied the requirements of Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(E).

         I. STANDARD

         In order to make this preliminary determination, “the government must convince the court, by a preponderance of the evidence, that (1) a conspiracy existed, (2) the defendant and the declarant were members of the conspiracy, and (3) the statement(s) sought to be admitted were made during and in furtherance of the conspiracy.” United States v. Alviar, 573 F.3d 526, 540 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Santiago, 582 F.2d at 1133-34); see also Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(E). “Santiago proffers are, by nature and necessity, argumentative and summary.” United States v. Cox, 923 F.2d 519, 527 (7th Cir. 1991). If the Government meets its burden via its proffer, the Court will conditionally admit the co-conspirator statements. “If at the close of its case the prosecution has not met its burden to show that the statements are admissible, the defendant can move for a mistrial or to have the statements stricken.” United States v. Haynie, 179 F.3d 1048, 1050 (7th Cir. 1999).

         II. DISCUSSION

         In the case at bar, the Government seeks a conditional ruling from this Court admitting statements of Colon. As explained more fully below, the Court finds that the Government has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the conspiracy described in its proffer existed; that Colon and Daniel Stewart were members of the conspiracy; and that the statements expected to be elicited at trial were made during and in furtherance of the conspiracy.

         A. The Existence of the Conspiracy and Stewart’s and Colon’s Participation Therein

         A conspiracy consists of “two or more people [who] agreed to commit an unlawful act.” United States v. Barta, 776 F.3d 931, 939 (7th Cir. 2015) (quotation and citation omitted). “Once a conspiracy is established, only slight evidence is required to link a defendant to it.” United States v. Shoffner, 826 F.2d 619, 627 (7th Cir. 1987). The Court has reviewed the evidence that the Government proffered of the conspiracy and Colon and the Defendant’s participation. See Dkt. No. 110 at 6-11.

         As the Seventh Circuit has noted, “in the murky world of illicit drugs, conspiracies are, by necessity, loosely-knit associations.” United States v. Sanchez, 251 F.3d 598, 601 (7th Cir. 2001) (citation omitted). The court provided further guidance as follows:

[A] conspiracy to distribute drugs can consist of an implicit understanding between the parties, evidenced by “transactions involving large quantities of drugs, prolonged cooperation between the parties, standardized dealings, and sales on a credit.” United States v. Berry, 133 F.3d 1020, 1023 (7th Cir. 1998). While these factors are instructive, no single factor is dispositive. United States v. Pearson, 113 F.3d 758, 761 (7th Cir. 1997).

Id. at 602.

         Here, the Court finds that the Government has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that a conspiracy existed. The evidence proffered by the Government demonstrates transactions involving large quantities of drugs - kilograms of heroin and cocaine. See United States v. Brown, 726 F.3d 993, 1000 (7th Cir. 2013) (holding that “if a person buys drugs in large quantities (too great for personal consumption), on a frequent basis, on credit, then an inference of conspiracy legitimately follows”). Moreover, in his post-arrest statement to police, the Defendant indicated that Colon had been his drug source for approximately a year and a half, which demonstrates prolonged cooperation.

         Further, the Government has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the Defendant and Colon were members of the conspiracy. The evidence proffered by the Government, including the post-arrest statement of the Defendant, is that Colon was the Defendant’s supplier of large quantities of drugs. As such, both were members of the conspiracy.

         B. The Statements Were Made in Furtherance ...


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