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United States v. Alexander

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

December 10, 2013

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
WILLIAM ALEXANDER.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

AMY J. ST. EVE, District Judge.

Before the Court is Defendant William Alexander's Motion for Discovery on Racial Profiling. (R. 118, Mot.) The Court denies Alexander's motion to a large extent, but grants limited discovery, as explained below, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' ("ATF") manual regarding the identification of targets in its stash-house robbery sting operations.[1]

BACKGROUND

On March 22, 2011, the grand jury returned a four-count indictment charging Alexander and his two co-defendants with conspiring and attempting to knowingly and intentionally possess five kilograms or more of cocaine with intent to distribute in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), 846, and knowingly possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846 and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A), (2). (R. 16, Indictment at 1-3.) Special agents with the ATF arrested Alexander and his co-defendants on February 23, 2011 as part of a stash-house robbery sting operation. The stash house at issue was not real, and the individuals with whom Alexander and his co-defendants agreed to commit the robbery were undercover ATF agents.

In the present motion, Alexander seeks discovery regarding alleged racial profiling in the investigation and prosecution of the ATF's stash-house robbery sting operations. (Mot. at 9-12.) In support of his motion, Alexander provides the racial makeup of defendants from 17 stash-house robbery sting cases brought in the Northern District of Illinois since 2006. ( Id. at 4-6.) Alexander claims that 42 of the 57 defendants in those cases are African American, 8 are Latino, and 7 are white. ( Id. at 6.) Alexander further claims that in the 7 cases brought since 2011, 19 of the 26 defendants are African American, 7 are Latino, and none are white. ( Id. ) Alexander asserts that these statistics establish that the ATF field office in Chicago and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois target minorities in conducting and prosecuting stash-house robbery stings, like the one that led to Alexander and his co-defendants' arrest. ( Id. at 1.)

Alexander argues that the Court should authorize discovery related to his purported defenses of selective prosecution and selective enforcement under United States v. Armstrong, 517 U.S. 456, 116 S.Ct. 1480, 134 L.Ed.2d 687 (1996), or Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 16. ( Id. at 7-8.) Specifically, Alexander requests discovery of the following seven categories of information or documents:

a) [A] list by case name, number, and the race of each defendant of all phony stash house ripoff cases brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois in which ATF was the federal investigatory agency from 2006 to the present.
b) For each such case listed in response: a statement of prior criminal contact that the federal agency responsible for the investigation had with each defendant prior to initiating the phony stash house ripoff sting (if all such information for a particular case is contained in the criminal complaint, a reference to the complaint would be a sufficient response).
c) [T]he statutory or regulatory authority for ATF to be instigating and/or pursuing phony staff [sic] house ripoff cases involving illegal drugs instead of guns. Any any [sic] decision by any federal agency, the Justice Department or the White House to authorize ATF to pursue drug cases in the Northern District of Illinois.
d) All national and Chicago Field Office ATF manuals [including The Home Invasion Operations Bulletin 1st edition and The ATF Manual Order], circulars, field notes, correspondence or other material which discus "stings, " "reverse stings, " "phony stash house ripoffs" or entrapment operations, including protocols and/or directions to agents and to confidential informants regarding how to conduct such operations, how to determine which persons to pursue as potential targets or ultimate defendants, how to ensure that the targets do not seek to quit or leave before an arrest can be made and how to ensure that agents are not targeting persons for such operations on the basis of their race, color, ancestry or national origin.
e) All documents that contain information on how supervisors and managers of the Chicago area ATF were to ensure that its agents were not targeting persons on the basis of their race, color, ancestry or national origin for these phony stash house ripoffs and what actions the Chicago area ATF (i.e. operating in the Northern District of Illinois) supervisors and managers took to determine whether agents were not targeting persons for such operations on the basis of their race, color, ancestry or national origin.
f) All documents which discuss "predication" for stash house stings. "Predication" is used here with the meaning it has in political corruption cases-that is establishing a good faith basis that a subject is already corrupt before the government tries to corrupt him.
g) All documents containing instructions given during the time Patrick Fitzgerald or Gary Shapiro have been the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois about the responsibilities of AUSA's [sic] to ensure that defendants in cases brought by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois have not been targeted due to their race, color, ancestry or national origin and specifically that those persons who are defendants in phony stash house cases in which ATF was the investigatory agency have not been targeted due to their race, color, ancestry or national origin ...

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