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United States v. Bolden

January 31, 2002

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHARLES BOLDEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 98-CR-936-1--George W. Lindberg, Judge.

Before Bauer, Ripple and Rovner, Circuit Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ripple, Circuit Judge.

ARGUED DECEMBER 11, 2001

Charles Bolden was charged in a three-count indictment with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Mr. Bolden was convicted on all three counts at a bench trial. At sentencing, the district court adjusted Mr. Bolden's offense level upward by two levels for obstruction of justice. Mr. Bolden now challenges both his conviction for drug conspiracy and the upward adjustment. For the reasons set forth in the following opinion, we affirm thejudgment of the district court.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts

In December 1998, Nathaniel Nettles-Bey, an acquaintance of Mr. Bolden, became an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Nettles-Bey informed the DEA that he knew of an individual who would sell him cocaine. On December 15, 1998, in cooperation with the DEA, Nettles-Bey arranged to buy cocaine from Mr. Bolden at the home of Marcus Davis in Blue Island, Illinois.

DEA Special Agents Daniel Foley and Robert Glynn conducted surveillance of Davis' home on the morning of December 16. Mr. Bolden, Nettles-Bey and Davis met inside Davis' house. After Mr. Bolden left Davis' house, Nettles-Bey met with Agent Foley and gave him a package containing approximately one kilogram of cocaine which he said he had received from Mr. Bolden. Agent Glynn followed Mr. Bolden by car to Harvey, Illinois, where he stopped Mr. Bolden and arrested him.

B. District Court Proceedings

Mr. Bolden was charged with one count of conspiring to distribute in excess of five kilograms of cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. sec.sec. 846 and 841(a)(1), and two counts of possession with intent to distribute in excess of 500 grams and two kilograms of cocaine, respectively, in violation of 21 U.S.C. sec. 841(a)(1). Mr. Bolden's trial was set for July 12, 1999. Mr. Bolden, however, failed to appear, and a bench warrant was issued. The trial ultimately commenced more than two months later. Mr. Bolden waived his right to a jury trial. At the bench trial, the government presented testimony from Marcus Davis and Agents Foley and Glynn.

Davis testified that he met with Mr. Bolden at Doghouse Records, a record store managed by Mr. Bolden. Davis asked Mr. Bolden if he was still "in the game," a reference to the sale of cocaine. Tr. of Sept. 27, 1999, at 70. Mr. Bolden told Davis that he was still "in the game" and asked him to "give me a call if you know somebody want to get something." Id.

Davis subsequently asked Nettles-Bey if he knew anyone who wanted to buy cocaine. A few days later, Nettles-Bey called Davis and asked him to contact his cocaine source. Davis then told Mr. Bolden that his "cousin," meaning Nettles-Bey, wanted to "get something." Id. at 71.

Davis further testified that he arranged a meeting between himself, Mr. Bolden and Nettles-Bey at his home. When Mr. Bolden arrived at Davis' home, he gave Nettles-Bey a plastic bag containing a package wrapped in duct tape. Nettles-Bey examined the package, which contained a white powder, and then paid Mr. Bolden. Davis, the middle-man, received $500 from Mr. Bolden when Nettles-Bey told him that he wanted to buy two more grams of cocaine. Davis scheduled another meeting with Mr. Bolden at Davis' home.

According to Davis, Mr. Bolden came to Davis' home on December 16 and gave Nettles-Bey a large detergent box. After Mr. Bolden left Davis' house, Nettles-Bey removed two packages from the box, placed one ...


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