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UNITED STATES v. SIMS

October 23, 1992

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
RUFUS SIMS, et al., Defendants.


ALESIA


The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES H. ALESIA

Judge James H. Alesia

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

 Before the court is the government's pretrial written proffer of evidence, submitted pursuant to United States v. Santiago, 582 F.2d 1128 (7th Cir. 1978), summarizing the evidence that the government expects to adduce at trial to establish that a conspiracy existed; that each of the defendants participated in the conspiracy; and that the co-conspirator statements sought to be introduced were made during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy.

 Under Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(E), statements made by a co-conspirator of a defendant during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy are not hearsay when offered against a defendant. Before these statements will be allowed into evidence, however, this court must determine that the government has demonstrated, by a preponderance of the evidence, that as to each defendant "(1) a conspiracy existed, (2) the defendant and the declarant were members thereof, and (3) the proffered statements were made during the course of and in furtherance of the conspiracy." United States v. Cox, 923 F.2d 519, 526 (7th Cir. 1991). In making this determination, the court "may examine the hearsay statements sought to be admitted." Bourjaily v. United States, 483 U.S. 171, 181, 97 L. Ed. 2d 144, 107 S. Ct. 2775 (1987).

 A. Existence of the Conspiracy

 All of the defendants in this case are charged with narcotics conspiracy, either as full participants or as aiders and abettors of that conspiracy. The narcotics conspiracy encompasses the various criminal conduct charged elsewhere in the indictment, including concealing income from and assets obtained by the proceeds of the illegal distribution of narcotics. The government states that the "essence of the charged conspiracy is that the co-conspirators joined together to sell heroin and cocaine for substantial financial gain, to maintain that conspiracy through secrecy and violence, to avoid prosecution for this criminal conduct, and to avoid discovery and seizure of the illegal proceeds of the conspiracy." Government's Proffer Regarding the Admission of Co-conspirator Statements, at 14 [hereinafter "Government's Proffer").

 From approximately 1985 to present, defendants Rufus Sims, Donald Moore, Michael Stevens, Delwin Langston, Dennis Gilliam, William Burch, Derrick Griffin, Timothy Paul Henderson, Ray Garvin, Joe Boyles, Maurice Harmon, Darryl Young, Shawn Baker, Timothy Patterson and others, conspired knowingly and intentionally to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute heroin and cocaine. Defendants Estella Sims, Andrea Thomas, Ruby Chambers and Richard Goldstein aided and abetted this conspiracy by acting to conceal from law enforcement agencies the income from and assets obtained by the sale of narcotics by the conspiracy. Government's Proffer, at 14-15.

 According to the government's proffer, the existence of the conspiracy, directed by defendant Rufus Sims or his subordinates, will be established by evidence that members of the conspiracy (1) obtained supplies of narcotics; (2) mixed and repackaged the narcotics into user-size packets to sell to customers; (3) delivered the narcotics to distribution outlets and picked up cash proceeds from prior sales; (4) obtained and operated individual narcotics distribution outlets, including renting the apartments used for narcotics distribution, hiring workers to staff those outlets, overseeing the performance of those workers, and providing security for the operation of those distribution outlets and the conspiracy in general; (5) punished workers and others who threatened the security of the conspiracy by methods including murder and beating; (6) obtained and maintained large quantities of firearms, including semiautomatic and automatic weapons and grenades, to provide security for the conspiracy; and (7) concealed from the Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other law enforcement agencies, the income from and assets obtained by the proceeds of the illegal distribution of narcotics. Government's Proffer, at 15-16.

 B. Each Defendant Participated in the Conspiracy

 For purposes of a Santiago proffer, once the charged conspiracy or joint venture is established "only slight evidence is required to link a defendant to it." United States v. Shoffner, 826 F.2d 619, 627 (7th Cir.) (citing other authorities), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 958, 108 S. Ct. 356, 98 L. Ed. 2d 381 (1987). The court may consider the conduct, knowledge and statements of the defendants and others in establishing their participation in the conspiracy. A single act or conversation can "suffice to connect the defendant to the conspiracy if that act leads to the reasonable inference of intent to participate in an unlawful enterprise." United States v. Baskes, 687 F.2d 165, 169 (7th Cir. 1981) (citation omitted).

 A defendant joins a conspiracy if he or she agrees with a conspirator to one or more of the common criminal objectives set forth in the indictment; it is immaterial whether the defendant knows, has met with, or has agreed with every conspirator. United States v. Boucher, 796 F.2d 972, 975 (7th Cir. 1986); United States v. Balistrieri, 779 F.2d 1191, 1225 (7th Cir. 1985), cert. denied sub nom. United States v. DiSalvo, 475 U.S. 1095, 106 S. Ct. 1490, 89 L. Ed. 2d 892 (1986). Furthermore, the government need not prove that a defendant knew each and every detail of the conspiracy or played more than a minor role in the conspiracy. United States v. Liefer, 778 F.2d 1236, 1247 n.9 (7th Cir. 1985); United States v. Towers, 775 F.2d 184, 189 (7th Cir. 1985). In addition, any of the defendants may be found to have participated in a conspiracy even if they joined or terminated their relationship with core conspirators at different times. *fn1" United States v. Ramirez, 796 F.2d 212, 215 (7th Cir. 1986); United States v. Noble, 754 F.2d 1324, 1329 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 818, 88 L. Ed. 2d 51, 106 S. Ct. 63 (1985).

 Each defendant must be shown to have participated in the conspiracy. In the instant case, several defendants may be linked to the conspiracy by their own admissions. *fn2" Furthermore, these admissions implicate co-conspirators by detailing their involvement. The Government's Proffer consisted of a 95-page statement of the facts and statements establishing the existence of a conspiracy and the defendant's participation in the conspiracy. The evidence presented in the court's opinion does not exhaust the evidence the Government proffers since, as noted above, "only slight evidence is required" to link a defendant to the conspiracy.

 Rufus Sims

 Rufus Sims' participation in the conspiracy will be established by the admissions made by several of his co-conspirators. Michael Stevens admitted that he worked for Rufus Sims at several drug houses and at "The Table" (a rotating headquarters for the conspiracy) "shaking dope" (i.e., diluting and packaging heroin for sale). Stevens also told investigators that he accompanied Sims and others on trips to Las Vegas, San Diego and New York. Government's Proffer, at 89. Shawn Baker told investigators that he had sold narcotics for Sims in 1986 and 1987. Government's Proffer, at 90. Maurice Harmon admitted to investigators that he sold narcotics for Rufus Sims from 1985 through 1988. Id. William Burch told investigators that he sold narcotics in the Sims organization from 1985 through 1988. Burch indicated that Rufus Sims delivered weekly salaries to the workers at Mr. G's bar on Chicago Avenue, a drug outlet. Burch stated that Rufus Sims directed Burch to participate in "violations" or disciplinary beatings. Government's Proffer, at 93.

 Donald Moore

 Donald Moore's participation in the conspiracy will be established by the admissions of several of his co-conspirators. William Burch named Moore as among the workers at Mr. G's bar, a Sims drug outlet, with whom Burch sold narcotics. Burch told investigators that Moore supplied this location with new drugs to sell when the old supply ran out and delivered weekly salaries together with Rufus Sims at the Mr. G's drug outlet. Government's Proffer, at 92.

 Michael Stevens

 Michael Stevens' participation in the conspiracy may be established by his admission to investigators that he worked for Rufus Sims between 1985 and 1987 at several different drug houses and at "The ...


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